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Media: Pukach's ex-wife says wrong man was sentenced for Gongadze murder

04.02.2013, 22:56

Inesa Salata, the ex-wife of the former chief of the Interior Ministry's external surveillance department, Oleksiy Pukach, who was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze, has said she is sure that Pukach did not kill journalist Gongadze in 2000, and added that Pukach is abroad now and another man was sentenced for the murder, Segodnya daily newspaper said on Monday, Kyiv Post reported

"It was not my husband in the cage! It was not Oleksiy Petrovych! I don't know where he is. Probably, he's abroad. They have been annoying me and my daughters with these questions for all these years. They are trying to make a fortune on other people's sorrow, I mean mine and my children's [sorrow]… It's not true that he killed someone, he's not guilty. This is my last word," she told the newspaper.

Meanwhile, Salata's father, Mykola, said he recognized the man as Pukach.

"I recognized my son-in-law in a news program. He was a good person for me, a kind man, I'm sorry for him. I don't think he could do that! And my son-in-law did not take any ropes from me [according to the investigation, before killing Gongadze Pukach came to Salata's house to take a rope, with which he tied the journalist up]… He has changed a lot, lost weight," Pukach's father-in-law said.

In turn, the Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine categorically rejected Pukach's ex-wife's statement.

"Probably, Pukach's wife has the same tactics as Gongadze's mother, who says that her son is alive despite dozens of expert examinations, DNA tests and so on, confirming that the corpse that was found in Tarascha woods was Gongadze's," the Prosecutor General's Office said.

Inesa Salata, who is 64 years old, lives in Kyiv. She was married to Pukach for 15 years and they have twin daughters.

On January 29, 2013, Kyiv's Pechersky District Court found 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, who is another injured party in the case.

Judge Andriy Melnyk asked Pukach after pronouncing the sentence whether he understands it, and Pukach replied: "I will understand the sentence when Kuchma and Lytvyn are also put in jail together with me."

On March 21, 2011, a criminal case was opened against Second Ukrainian President (1994-2005) Leonid Kuchma. He was accused of abuse of office and power that resulted into the murder of journalist Gongadze (Part 3 of Article 166 of the Criminal Code of 1960).

On December 13, 2011, Kyiv's Pechersky District Court declared illegal the opening of the criminal case against Kuchma and cancelled the PGO's relevant instruction.

Kyiv Court of Appeals and High Specialized Court on Civil and Criminal Cases upheld the decision to close the criminal case against Kuchma.

Kuchma categorically denied allegations of his involvement in the murder of the journalist.

In December 2012, First Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine Renat Kuzmin told journalists that the investigation to discover people that ordered the murder of Gongadze was added to the single register of pre-trial investigations and was investigated under new procedures foreseen by the new Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine that took effect on November 21, 2012.

Journalist Gongadze, the founder of the Internet publication Ukrainska Pravda, 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.

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