The Ukrainian judge who oversaw the investigative phase of the case of the 2016 murder in Kyiv of journalist Pavel Sheremet has been found dead outside the Ukrainian capital, Ukrainian media report.
The Kyiv regional prosecutor's office announced on September 12 that it was investigating the death of a judge from the Pechersk district court in Kyiv as a case of "premeditated murder" without naming the victim.
However, the website of the Pechersk court has published a statement saying all hearings chaired by Judge Vitaliy Pisanets had been indefinitely postponed and "will be redistributed for consideration by other judges."
Ukrainian media have reported that Pisanets died late on September 11 while at a gathering with friends.
Sheremet, a Belarus-born Russian citizen, was killed on July 20, 2016, by an explosive device attached to the bottom of his car.
In December 2019, Ukrainian investigators arrested three suspects in Sheremet's case -- Yana Duhar, Andriy Antonenko, and Yulia Kuzmenko. Duhar and Kuzmenko were later transferred to house arrest.
The trio took part in military operations in different capacities in Ukraine's east, where government forces are fighting against Kremlin-backed separatists.
The Interior Ministry and the National Police said in December 2020 that the trio's goal was "to destabilize the political and social situation in Ukraine" by killing Sheremet.
All three have denied any involvement in the killing and their trial, which started a year ago, has stalled several times due to inconsistencies in the investigation.