First Deputy Prosecutor General Renat Kuzmin said investigators have evidence that former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma is involved in the murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze in 2000, Kyiv Post reported.
When asked if prosecutor's office can prove Kuchma was the one who ordered the murder of muckraking journalist, Kuzmin told Ekho Moskvy radio station that they have “enough proof” to say Kuchma was involved, and that investigation is ongoing.
Prosecutors briefly opened a criminal case against the former president in 2011, accusing him of abuse of office and ordering a murder. It was closed soon on a technicality, the court never examined the essence of accusations against Kuchma.
Kuzmin said that previously charges against Kuchma were dropped because they were based on the secret recordings of his former guard Mykola Melnychenko’s, which were made illegally and could not serve as proof in court, indicating that now the prosecutors have more evidence.
On Jan. 29 Pechersk District Court in Kyiv convicted the former chief of the Interior Ministry's surveillance department, Oleksiy Pukach, to life in prison for murdering journalist Gongadze in 2001.
When leaving the court, Pukach was asked by the judge if he understood the verdict. He replied: “I will understand when Kuchma and [his former chief of staff Volodymyr] Lytvyn are in the cage with me."
Both Kuchma and Lytvyn were recorded on Melnychenko's tapes discussing Gongadze. Kuchma, in particular, was caught giving an order to “throw him out. Give him to the Chechens.”
The two politicians were also implicated in testimony given by Pukach during the closed trial, according to the lawyer of Gongadze's widow. They have both denied their involvement.
Pukach said he had been told to carry out the murder by then-Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko, who was acting on orders from Kuchma and Lytvyn. Kravchenko was found dead in 2005 from two gunshot wounds to the head in what investigators called a suicide.