Former Ukrainian top official jailed over journalist murder

Former Ukrainian top official jailed over journalist murder

KIEV: Olexiy Pukach, ex-head of Ukrainian Interior Ministry’s foreign surveillance department, has been sentenced to life imprisonment by a court for strangling critical journalist Georgy Gongadze in 2000, the highest-profile crime in the country’s post-Soviet history.

Pukach is the most senior figure to be jailed over the killing of the journalist who was vehemently opposed to then president Leonid Kuchma.

“The court came to a conclusion of the necessity for Pukach to serve punishment in the form of life imprisonment,” said the verdict read out by the judge at the Ukrainian capital Kiev’s Pechersky district court.

Gongadze co-founded Ukrainska Pravda news site in April 2000 that remains one of Ukraine’s loudest opposition media voices. But later in September of the same year he went missing and in November his headless body was found in a forest outside the capital Kiev.

However, the accused Pukach maintained he was only partly responsible for the journalist’s death.