Israel has suspended the process of the extradition to Ukraine of a former employee of the State Department of Guard, Mykola Melnychenko, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka has said.
"Unfortunately, in practice there can be such interactions with countries in which extradition is not always enforced. In this case, the country is Israel. Over the entire period of [Ukraine’s] independence, this country has extradited only one citizen to us. The Security Service [of Ukraine] prepared all of the materials on Melnychenko’s extradition and agreed on them with the Prosecutor General’s Office, but Israel has set new demands for our investigators on the collection of the documents necessary for his extradition. This work was suspended suddenly, and the extradition did not happen," he said in an exclusive interview to Interfax-Ukraine, when asked whether Melnychenko could be extradited to Ukraine.
As reported, journalist Georgy Gongadze went missing in Kyiv on Sept.16, 2000. A decapitated corpse was found in a forest outside of Kyiv in November 2000, and experts concluded later that it could have been Gongadze’s. Remains of a skull were found in the Kyiv region in 2009, and the Prosecutor General’s Office later declared it was the journalist’s.
In November 2000, Melnychenko published audio recordings allegedly made in the office of President Leonid Kuchma. The recordings implicated Kuchma and several other high-ranking officials in putting pressure on journalists, parliamentary deputies and judges over Gongadze’s murder.
A criminal case was opened against Melnychenko regarding the leaking of state secrets, abuse of office and the use of forged documents.
On Oct.14, 2011, the Prosecutor General’s Office said that Melnychenko twice attempted to leave Ukrainian territory and that on Sept. 23, 2011, an SBU investigator issued a resolution to put him on the wanted list.
On Oct. 18, 2011, Shevchenkivsky District Court in Kyiv ordered the arrest of Melnychenko as he is hiding from investigation.
Melnychenko currently stays in Israel.
A criminal case was opened against Kuchma on March 21, 2011. He is charged with abuse of power and official authority, which subsequently led to the murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze (Part 3, Article 166 of the 1960 Criminal Code).
On Dec.13, 2011, Kyiv’s Pechersky District Court cancelled an order by the Prosecutor General’s Office to open a criminal case against Ukraine’s second president (1994-2005) Leonid Kuchma on suspicion of his involvement in the murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze.
On Jan.20, 2012, Kyiv’s Court of Appeals upheld the decision not to start a criminal case against Kuchma, related to his suspected involvement in the killing of Gongadze.