Local prosecutor in Gongadze case convicted and amnestied

New York, May 7, 2003—The Shevchenko District Court in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, yesterday convicted and then amnestied Serhy Obozov, the former prosecutor of Tarashcha District, for obstructing the criminal inquiry into the September 2000 disappearance and murder of Internet journalist Georgy Gongadze, according to local and international press reports.

Obozov, who was arrested in August 2002, was sentenced to a two-and-a-half-year prison term for forging documents, acting negligently in conducting the criminal inquiry, and planting false evidence at the scene of the murder, The Associated Press reported.

Under an amnesty law allowing convicted criminals to be freed to support young children, Obozov, whose daughter is a minor, was released after the hearing.

Investigative journalist Gongadze faced frequent harassment and intimidation for his reporting before he disappeared on his way home the evening of September 16, 2000. His headless corpse was discovered in a shallow grave in Tarashcha District outside Kyiv in November 2000.

The Gongadze case was branded “Kuchmagate” after audiotapes implicating Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma in the murder were released in late November 2000, sparking a domestic political crisis.

Despite tremendous international and local pressure, Ukrainian authorities have effectively obstructed the investigation into Gongadze’s murder.