MOSCOW, January 30 (RIA Novosti) - The OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatović, welcomed on Wednesday the conviction of the murderer of Ukrainian journalist Georgy Gongadze, urging Ukrainian authorities to continue pursuing those who ordered this crime.
Last Tuesday Ukraine's former Interior Ministry General Oleksiy Pukach was convicted of murdering and beheading the opposition journalist and sentenced to life in prison.
“Finally, after 12 long years of suffering and uncertainty for Gongadze’s family, friends and colleagues, justice has been done. But those who ordered this crime remain at large,” said Mijatović. “There is still a long way to go to break the vicious cycle of impunity for those who instigate violence against journalists, in Ukraine and beyond.”
Kiev’s Pechersky District Court established that Pukach killed the journalist while trying to make him admit to being a foreign spy. Gongadze did not confess, though admitting he had collected data for the US Embassy.
Pukach said he just wanted to frighten Gongadze, but the belt around his neck accidentally tightened and he died. He then beheaded the journalist.
Gongadze, an outspoken critic of then-President Leonid Kuchma, was kidnapped, and his headless body was found months later in a forest in September 2000.
The slaying shocked Ukraine and sparked massive street protests.
Three policemen were jailed for the murder in 2008.
Shortly after the killing, hidden camera recordings were released in which former president Kuchma was allegedly heard discussing ways to get rid of the reporter with late former Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko.
Pukach, the head of the ministry's surveillance department at the time of the murder, was arrested in 2009 after six years on the run.
Pukach said he killed the journalist on the orders of Kravchenko. Kravchenko purportedly committed suicide in 2005. Pukach also accused Kuchma and ex-parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn of having masterminded the assassination.
In June 2012, Ukraine’s High Special Court for Civil and Criminal Cases upheld the ruling to drop murder charges against ex-President Leonid Kuchma.