Viktor Petrunenko, a lawyer of second Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma (1994-2005), has said he believes that the mentioning of the name of his client by Oleksiy Pukach, the former head of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry's external surveillance, who was convicted of the murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze, is unsubstantiated from a legal point of view, Kyiv Post reported.
"It's unnecessary to comment on Pukach's words during the trial and after the announcement of the verdict, as they are unsubstantiated from a legal point of view," he told Interfax-Ukraine on Wednesday.
The lawyer said that Pukach's statement implies no legal consequences.
Petrunenko said that Kuchma "has no relation to those tragic events."
"The court found that a criminal case against my client was unfounded and illegal, accordingly, there are and there can be no grounds for any legal claims against him," the lawyer said.
On January 29, 2013, Kyiv's Pechersky District Court found former chief of the external surveillance department of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, Oleksiy Pukach, guilty of killing Gongadze and sentenced him to life in prison. The court also stripped Pukach of his lieutenant general rank and obliged him to pay UAH 500,000 to Gongadze's widow, Myroslava Gongadze, and UAH 100,000 to journalist Oleksiy Podolsky.
Judge Andriy Melnyk asked Pukach after pronouncing the sentence whether he understands it, and Pukach replied: "I will understand the sentence when [former Ukrainian President Leonid] Kuchma and [former presidential chief of staff Volodymyr] Lytvyn are also put in jail together with me."
Journalist Gongadze, the founder of the Internet publication Ukrainska Pravda (Ukrainian Truth), disappeared in Kyiv on September 16, 2000. A beheaded body was found in a forest outside Kyiv in November 2000, and experts concluded preliminarily that it could have been Gongadze's. Remains of a skull were found in Kyiv region in 2009, and the Prosecutor General's Office concluded that they were Gongadze's. The body, however, has still not been buried, as the journalist's mother, Lesia Gongadze, is refusing to recognize the remains as her son's.