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Ukraine's Supreme Court Rejects Appeal Of Ex-Cop Convicted In Murder Of Journalist Gongadze

Oleksiy Pukach was sentenced to life in prison in January 2013 being found guilty of personally strangling Heorhiy Gongadze to death.

KYIV --The Supreme Court of Ukraine has rejected the appeal of Oleksiy Pukach, a former top police officer who was convicted in the murder of investigative journalist Heorhiy Gongadze.

The court handed down its ruling on July 2, saying the verdict and sentence for the former police general remains unchanged and that his request for a retrial was rejected.

The Pechera District Court in Kyiv sentenced Pukach, the Interior Ministry's former surveillance department chief, to life in prison in January 2013 after finding him guilty of personally strangling Gongadze to death.

Gongadze, who exposed high-level corruption, was kidnapped in September 2000 and his decapitated body was found outside Kyiv several months later.

Ukrainian reporter Heorhiy Gonhadze (1969–2000)
Ukrainian reporter Heorhiy Gonhadze (1969–2000)

Then-president Leonid Kuchma was accused of involvement in the murder based on audio recordings secretly made in his office in which he allegedly conspires against the journalist.

Prosecutors charged Kuchma with involvement in the case in 2011. However, a court dropped the charges later that year saying the main evidence against Kuchma had been obtained by illegal means and therefore could not serve as the basis for a criminal complaint.

Pukach was arrested in 2009. At his trial, he said Kuchma, his former chief of staff Volodymyr Lytvyn, and former Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko, had ordered Gongadze's killing.

Kravchenko was found dead in his apartment near Kyiv in 2005. Official reports said Kravchenko committed suicide, but some Ukrainian media outlets claimed that he died of two gunshot wounds to his head.

In 2008, three former police officers were found guilty of taking part in Gongadze's killing and sentenced to lengthy prison terms.