Thursday 14 December 2017

Ukraine's ex-premier faces quiz in murder probe

Maria Danilova in Kiev

FORMER Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma is to be questioned in a 10-year investigation into the brutal slaying of an investigative journalist renowned for exposing high-level corruption.

Deputy prosecutor general Renat Kuzmin said yesterday that Mr Kuchma was suspected of abusing his office powers by giving orders to interior ministry officials that "eventually led to the journalist's killing".

The ex-president has been banned from leaving Ukraine as part of the probe.

Journalist Heorhiy Gongadze was kidnapped in September 2000 at the age of 31. His headless body was later discovered outside the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. Mr Gongadze's widow, Myroslava, and her two children, fled to the United States in 2001, where they received political asylum.

Mr Kuchma has long been accused by opponents and rights groups of involvement in the slaying, based on tape recordings in which a voice that sounds like his is heard complaining about the journalist and suggesting subordinates "deal" with the problem.

The killing sparked months of protests against Mr Kuchma.

He has denied the allegations and his office declined to comment on the announcement.

Three former police officers were convicted of involvement in the killing and sentenced to lengthy prison terms in 2008. But the masterminds have still to be brought to justice.

Irish Independent

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