Lawyer in Kuchma case questions independence of higher cassation court

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May 31, 2012, 4:44 p.m. | Ukraine — by Interfax-Ukraine
The decision to postpone the consideration of a cassation appeal lodged by the Prosecutor General's Office against the dropping of charges against second Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma (1994-2005) regarding his involvement in the murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze, is a sign of the reluctance of the Higher Specialized Court of Ukraine for Civil and Criminal Cases to consider the complaint at present, according to Valentyna Telychenko, a lawyer representing the interests of the deceased journalist's widow, Myroslava Gongadze. "The postponement of consideration until July 26, in fact, is a sign of unwillingness to consider the complaint. Probably, the court has not agreed its decision with those who influence the endorsement of these decisions," she told reporters after a court session on Thursday.

As reported, the Higher Specialized Court for Civil and Criminal Cases adjourned until July 26 the hearing of an appeal by the Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine against the ruling of the Court of Appeals to uphold the closing of a criminal case against Ukraine's second president, Leonid Kuchma, related to his suspected involvement in the murder of Gongadze.

A criminal case was opened against Kuchma on March 21, 2011. He was charged with abuse of power and official authority, which subsequently led to the murder of Gongadze (Part 3, Article 166 of the 1960 Criminal Code). Tapes secretly recorded by Kuchma's former bodyguard Mykola Melnychenko in the president's office were declared to be material evidence in the case.

On December 13, 2011, Kyiv Pechersky District Court cancelled an order by the Prosecutor General's Office to open a criminal case against Kuchma on suspicion of his involvement in Gongadze's murder.

The court ruled that former State Department Guard Major Mykola Melnychenko's tapes were obtained illegally and thus cannot serve as evidence in the criminal case against Kuchma.
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