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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 November 2005, 20:51 GMT
Payout over Kiev reporter's death
Georgiy Gongadze
Georgiy Gongadze had asked prosecutors to protect him
The widow of a murdered Ukrainian journalist has been awarded 100,000 euros (68,000) in damages by the European Court of Human Rights.

The headless body of the journalist, Georgiy Gongadze, was found in woods near Kiev in November 2000.

The court ruled that the Ukrainian authorities had not done enough to protect Gongadze's life, or to investigate his death.

It also concluded that police officers were probably involved in his murder.

Events revealing the possible involvement of state officials in Gongadze's disappearance and death were neglected or simply denied
Court ruling
"The court noted that recent developments in the applicant's case demonstrated with a high degree of probability that police officers were involved in the disappearance and murder of Mr Gongadze," the judgement said.

It also said his widow, Myroslava, had been subjected to degrading treatment by being deprived of information for years - including confirmation that the body was her husband's, and access to his file.

'Precedent'

It said her right to effective remedy had been violated, because "for more than four years, no effective criminal investigation could be considered to have been conducted".

Myroslava Gongadze
Myroslava Gongadze was given access to her husband's file in 2005
Ms Gongadze told the BBC Ukrainian Service that for her, the most important thing was to have set a precedent for Ukrainian citizens.

"From today, anyone who wants to defend their rights can use this experience to struggle better for themselves," she said.

In their account of the case, the seven judges pointed out:

  • The voice of the then Interior Minister Yuri Kravchenko is heard in recordings allegedly made in 2000 in the office of the then President, Leonid Kuchma, saying that he knows certain people capable of threatening Gongadze
  • A newspaper in January 2001 made public the names of four police officers allegedly involved in the surveillance of Gongadze
  • A lieutenant-general of the interior ministry was arrested on suspicion of involvement in Gongadze's disappearance in October 2003, only to be released two weeks later
  • Three police officers were arrested shortly after President Viktor Yushchenko came to power, in early 2005
  • Yuri Kravchenko's "death by purported suicide" was announced in March 2005 on the day prosecutors were due to question him

The judges ruled that events "revealing the possible involvement of state officials" in Gongadze's disappearance and death were "neglected or simply denied without proper investigation for a considerable period of time".

They added: "The fact that the alleged offenders, two of them active police officers, were identified and charged with the kidnap and murder of the journalist just a few days after the change in the country's leadership, raised serious doubts as to the genuine wish of the authorities under the previous government to investigate the case thoroughly."

However, prosecutors have been widely criticised for allegedly failing to make progress with the case since the arrest of the suspects in March.

In October, President Yushchenko sacked the prosecutor general, Svyatoslav Piskun.

On Tuesday, he accused Mr Piskun of working badly, and said he had failed to deliver results in the Gongadze case and other high-profile cases.

The men arrested in March have not yet been handed over to the courts for trial.




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