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Ukraine prosecutor investigating former president's role in journalist murder

Ukrainian state prosecutors announced a criminal investigation Tuesday against former president Leonid Kuchma [BBC profile] for his alleged involvement in the 2000 murder of opposition journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. The criminal investigation is based on Kuchma's suspected abuse of power [BBC report] and illegal orders, which led to the journalist's murder. Gongadze was an outspoken critic of Kuchma, who was then implicated in the murder [JURIST report] through secret recordings, but denied any involvement.

In 2000, Gongadze was kidnapped by ex-police officers, beaten, strangled, beheaded and buried. Following Gongadze's murder, in 2008, three former police officers were convicted and sentenced to jail [JURIST report] by a Ukrainian court for their roles in carrying out the murder. Mykola Protasov was sentenced to 13 years, while Valeriy Kostenko and Oleksandr Popovych each received a 12-year sentence. In 2006, the trial of the former police officers began [JURIST report], but those who ordered the murder had not been found. In 2005, the commission investigating the murder said that the voices of Kuchma, Parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn and other officials were heard on recordings where they were allegedly conspiring against Gongadze. The inquiry also accused Kuchma of ordering Gongadze's kidnapping and murder.

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