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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 March 2008, 16:01 GMT
Ukraine journalist killers jailed
Georgiy Gongadze
Mr Gongadze was openly critical of Ukraine's former regime
A court in Ukraine has sentenced three former police officers to prison for the murder of investigative journalist Georgiy Gongadze.

Mykola Protasov was given a sentence of 13 years, while Valeriy Kostenko and Oleksandr Popovych were each handed 12-year terms.

Mr Gongadze's death, in 2000, sparked widespread protests in the Ukraine.

His family said the high-profile trial had failed to bring the masterminds behind the killing to justice.

Thirty-one year-old Mr Gongadze was an outspoken critic of the former regime led by Leonid Kuchma.

He was abducted in September 2000 and his headless body was found two months later buried in a forest.

The killing triggered a political scandal, especially after the emergence of secretly recorded tapes that allegedly implicated Mr Kuchma.

The former president, who was in power until 2004, denies any involvement.

Protasov, Kostenko, and Popovych were tried for the actual killing.

But investigations have failed to show who ordered the murder.

Oleksiy Pukach, another suspect who was the former chief of the Interior Ministry's surveillance department, is believed to have fled abroad and is being sought on an international arrest warrant.

The demonstrations that followed Mr Gongadze's killing culminated in the popular uprising known as the Orange Revolution, which brought the current president, Viktor Yushchenko, to power.



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