Pechersky District Court in Kyiv has postponed until Thursday, Dec. 13, hearings into the case on charges brought against Oleksiy Pukach, the main suspect in the case on the murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze and former chief of the external surveillance department of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, due to the absence of Pukach's lawyer.
Valentyna Telychenko, the lawyer for Gongadze’s widow, Myroslava Gongadze, told Interfax-Ukraine that Pukach’s lawyer had not appeared at the meeting for a good cause and therefore the court had moved the hearing to Thursday, Dec. 13, for 1100.
Gongadze went missing in Kyiv on Sept.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.
However, the body has yet to be buried, as the journalist’s mother Lesia Gongadze refuses to recognize that it belongs to her son.
Pukach, the former head of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry’s external surveillance department, who had long been on the wanted list, was detained in Zhytomyr region on July 21, 2009, and has been kept in custody since then.
In December 2010, the Prosecutor General’s Office announced that the investigation into the criminal case was over. The investigation confirmed that Pukach killed the journalist by order of then Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko.
Kyiv’s Pechersky District Court has been considering the criminal case against Pukach since April 2011.
In November 2000, a transcript of several tapes pointing to the involvement of then Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and other officials in a number of high-profile crimes, including the Gongadze murder, was published in the parliament. Those tapes were allegedly recorded by Melnychenko. However, the court refused to include Melnychenko’s tapes as evidence in the case.