Ex-police general gets life sentence for killing Ukrainian journalist

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Ex-police general gets life sentence for killing Ukrainian journalist

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A former Ukrainian police officer has been jailed for life for the murder of an investigative journalist 12 years ago.

Police General Oleksiy Pukach is the fourth person to be convicted over the grisly killing of Georgiy Gongadze, an editor who wrote of political corruption and crime.

Pukach was on the run for four years before being arrested in 2009 and during his trial he repeated allegations that ex-President Leonid Kuchma and other officials were equally guilty.

The state prosecutor was quick to dismiss the claims. “He never said they actually witnessed the killings, so I don’t know why they should be mentioned in the verdict,” said Volodymyr Shylov.

Valentyna Telychenko, the Gongadze lawyer said the family will appeal because the judges failed to establish who gave the ultimate order to kill him.

“But the court ruled the murder was motivated exclusively by people hoping for promotion,” she added.

The headless body of the 31-year-old journalist was found in woods a month and a half after he was abducted in the centre of the capital Kiev.

The case seriously shook authorities in the former Soviet republic at a time when they kept a tight rein on the media.

Our reporter Evgeniya Rudenko in Kiev says his death also sparked huge demonstrations which marked a turning point in Kuchma’s 10-year rule.