Ukraine's ex-president Kuchma will not appeal charges over Gongadze murder

© RIA Novosti . Grigory Vasilenko / Go to the photo bankUkraine's former president, Leonid Kuchma
Ukraine's former president, Leonid Kuchma - Sputnik International
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Ukraine's former president, Leonid Kuchma, said on Monday he would not appeal charges in connection with the 2000 death of investigative journalist and regime critic Georgy Gongadze.

Ukraine's former president, Leonid Kuchma, said on Monday he would not appeal charges in connection with the 2000 death of investigative journalist and regime critic Georgy Gongadze.

"I disagree with the lawyers who insist on appealing the criminal charges," Kuchma said, adding that the truth about the murder must be discovered.

Kuchma confirmed that he was being accused of abuse of power and issuing orders that led to the murder of the journalist.

He also said he would have a team of two lawyers - an American and a Ukrainian - to defend him.

"If we want to establish the truth, we need reliable evidence from both sides," Kuchma said before meeting with prosecutors.

Ukrainian prosecutors on Tuesday opened a criminal case against Kuchma, the president of Ukraine in 1994-2005, on suspicion of involvement in Gongadze's murder.

Shortly after the journalist's decapitated body was found in a forest near Kiev in November 2000, Kuchma's former bodyguard released a tape, which he had allegedly recorded in the ex-president's office.

The tape allegedly features a conversation, in which a voice that sounds like Kuchma's speaks of a plan to kill the journalist.

Kuchma has denied any involvement.

In June 2008, three former employees of the Interior Ministry's criminal investigations department were found guilty of murdering Gongadze. The officers said they killed the journalist on orders from the former head of the ministry's criminal investigations department, Lt. Gen. Oleksiy Pukach.

Pukach was arrested in the summer of 2009 and is now awaiting trial.

In September, prosecutors said Yuriy Kravchenko, interior minister in 2000, was also responsible for ordering the murder. Kravchenko purportedly committed suicide in 2005.

KIEV, March 28 (RIA Novosti)

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