Ukraine must prosecute Kuchma in Gongadze murder

New York, December 14, 2011–Today’s court ruling to scrap the case against former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma for allegedly ordering the 2000 murder of independent journalist Georgy Gongadze is a blow to press freedom, said the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“Justice will not prevail until President Kuchma is held accountable, in a court of law, for allegedly ordering Gongadze’s slaying,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “Gongadze’s family, the people of Ukraine, and the international community have been waiting for eleven years.”

Kuchma was indicted in March on abuse-of-office charges. This indictment was based on secretly taped conversations between Kuchma and close aides. Ukraine’s Constitutional Court ruled in October that evidence obtained through illegal means could not be used as basis for indictments, thus shielding the former president from prosecution.