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Tuesday, 3 September, 2002, 17:53 GMT 18:53 UK
Ukraine's headless body 'to be buried'
Georgiy Gongadze (R) and family
Gongadze (right): Date of death has now been established
Ukraine's prosecutor general has announced that the headless body of a murdered journalist may finally be buried, nearly two years after it was found in a rubbish tip outside Kiev.


Gongadze received the injuries in his lifetime and his head was disconnected from the body not after his death

Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun
The announcement came after another round of tests on the body - the latest in a long, bungled investigation - resulted in a new confirmation that it was that of internet journalist Georgiy Gongadze.

Officials also confirmed that he was beheaded while still alive.

The disappearance of the journalist, and the release of tapes in which President Leonid Kuchma's voice was heard apparently telling the Interior Minister to "throw out" the journalist, fuelled massive opposition demonstrations in Kiev last year.

This week opposition leaders announced a new round of nationwide protests against the president in two week's time, to mark the second anniversary of Mr Gongadze's disappearance.

Search for head

At a press conference in Kiev on Tuesday, Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun said experts were now 100% certain that the headless body was Mr Gongadze's, and that he was contacting the journalist's mother to arrange a funeral.

President Leonid Kuchma
President Kuchma: Tapes will be re-analysed
He said Ukrainian forensic scientists had carried out an independent identification, in the wake of contradictory results of DNA tests conducted by Russian, German and US scientists.

He said a search for the missing head was continuing.

"Gongadze received the injuries in his lifetime and his head was disconnected from the body not after his death," the prosecutor-general told a news conference.

He added that an exact date of death had been determined, but would not be publicised.

The investigation was re-launched earlier this year by Mr Piskun, after he was appointed to replace his discredited predecessor Mikhailo Potebenko.

Opposition unites

The US and other Western governments had long been calling for a full and transparent investigation.

As well as making new tests on the body, Mr Piskun has also sent the recordings of Mr Kuchma's voice for new checks on their authenticity.

The call for protests this month is backed by a number of Ukrainian opposition parties, in a rare act of unity.

Communists, socialists and the centre-right party led by the former prime minister, Viktor Yushchenko, and other opposition movements have joined forces.

The protest leaders say they will call for early presidential elections, the removal of the old elite from the government and the establishment of an independent judicial system.

See also:

12 Feb 01 | Europe
19 Feb 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
29 Nov 00 | Media reports
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