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Gongadze's Widow To Appeal Court Ruling Clearing Kuchma

Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma
Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma
KYIV -- The widow of slain Ukrainian journalist Heorhiy Gongadze says she will appeal the court decision to dismiss charges against former President Leonid Kuchma for his alleged involvement in her husband's murder, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

A Kyiv court dropped all charges against Kuchma on December 14. Myroslava Gongadze told RFE/RL the same day that the court ruling "does not lift suspicion that Kuchma was involved in the ordering of the killing."

"The trial has not focused on the case's major points, the court fully ignored all the laws and regulations; with its decision the court hammered the last nail into the lid of Ukrainian justice's coffin," Gongadze said.

Gongadze told RFE/RL from Washington, where she lives with her two daughters, that she will continue fighting for justice for her late husband.

She added that she does not trust Ukraine's courts and will refer the case to a European court.

Heorhiy Gongadze was kidnapped in September 2000. His headless body was found two months later.

Kuchma, who was president from 1994-2005, was charged in March with exceeding his authority by undertaking actions that led to Gongadze's killing. Kuchma denies any involvement.

Much of the case against Kuchma, 72, was based on alleged secret tape recordings by his former bodyguard, Mykola Melnychenko, which indicated Kuchma's annoyance with Gongadze and included talk of how to silence him.

In its ruling on December 14, Kyiv's Pechera district court said the tapes had been acquired by illegal means and therefore could not be accepted as evidence.

Meanwhile, the prime suspect in the killing, Oleksiy Pukach, said at his trial in August that Kuchma was among those who ordered the murder.

Pukach is the former head of the main criminal investigation department at the Interior Ministry's Foreign Surveillance Unit. He was arrested in July 2009 in Zhitomir Oblast.

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