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Reporters Without Borders demand more transparency in trial of Pukach

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Oct. 4, 2011, 7:14 p.m. | Ukraine — by Interfax-Ukraine

Oleksiy Pukach, the former head of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry's external surveillance department, who is accused of the murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze.

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The Reporters Without Borders international non-governmental organization has said it demands more transparency for the court proceedings on the criminal case against Oleksiy Pukach, the former head of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry's external surveillance department, who is accused of the murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze. "Our main demand is to make this trial at least partially open, as the community in Ukraine and abroad takes great interest in this process," the organization's representative in Ukraine, Oksana Romaniuk, said during a meeting of an inter-departmental working group for the analysis of the fulfillment of legislation on the freedom of speech and the rights of journalists in Kyiv on Tuesday.

She added that the trial has great influence on Ukraine's image, and its closed character gives rise to doubts about the court's impartiality.

Romaniuk also pointed to the lack of support for the work of journalists during the court proceedings on the gas case against former Ukrainian Premier Yulia Tymoshenko.

In response to this statement Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine Viktor Zanfirov said, "No one can order the judge around - he is independent."

According to Zanfirov, the Pukach case is connected with secret materials, which may not be publicized. He added that only the presiding judge in the case is entitled to take decisions regarding the openness of the trial. If the judge were to violate the legislation, his verdict would be cancelled.

Gongadze went missing in Kyiv on September 16, 2000. A decapitated corpse, which experts claimed could be that of Gongadze, was found in a forest outside Kyiv in November 2000. In May 2010 Ukrainian Prosecutor General Oleksandr Medvedko stated that fragments of a skull found in July 2009 in Kyiv region belonged to Gongadze.

The Prosecutor General's Office declared that former Ukrainian Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko ordered to murder Gongadze, following the statement the court sent the case for additional investigation. Pukach is accused of having committed the murder.

Pukach, who had long been on the wanted list, was detained in the Zhytomyr region on July 21, 2009.
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