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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 March, 2005, 15:18 GMT
Ukraine's ex-leader questioned
Former Ukrainian leader Leonid Kuchma. Archive picture
Kuchma says his conscience is clean
Ukraine's ex-President Leonid Kuchma has been questioned by prosecutors as part of the inquiry into the murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze in 2000.

"Mr Kuchma gave evidence in the morning in Kiev," said a spokesman for the prosecutor general's office.

Mr Kuchma denies any involvement in the murder of the investigative journalist.

He agreed to answer investigators' questions after the apparent suicide last week of his ex-interior minister, who had been due to testify.

Yuri Kravchenko was found dead at his country house outside Kiev on Friday an hour before he was due to give his testimony.

He was reported to have left a suicide note that said he was a victim of political intrigues of Mr Kuchma and his circle.

Political scandal

Days earlier, Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun said investigators knew who had ordered the journalist's killing. He did not give names.

Georgiy Gongadze
Sept 2000 - Abducted. Headless body is found weeks later
Jan 2001 - Tape recordings apparently implicating President Kuchma emerge
Feb 2001 - EU calls for murder inquiry
May 2001 - US forensic tests confirm headless body is Gongadze's
Dec 2004 - Viktor Yushchenko elected president, promises to solve case
1 March 2005 - Suspected killers arrested
President Viktor Yushchenko has pledged to find out who abducted and killed Gongadze, who reported on high-profile corruption scandals.

A proper investigation was among the main demands of the pro-Western opposition, which staged the "orange revolution" that brought Mr Yushchenko to power in January following disputed elections.

The discovery of Gongadze's headless body in a wood near Kiev triggered a political scandal, especially after the emergence of a covertly recorded tape that allegedly implicated Mr Kuchma.

In the tapes, Mr Kuchma was heard to complain about Gongadze's reporting and allegedly ordered Mr Kravchenko to "get rid of" the journalist.

Mr Kuchma says the tapes have been edited to distort his words.

According to Ukrainian law, the former president has no immunity against criminal prosecution.

Country profile: Ukraine
02 Mar 05 |  Country profiles

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