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22 Jul, 2009 18:31

General involved in high-profile murder of journalist

The man accused of killing investigative journalist Georgy Gongadze in Ukraine has admitted involvement.

Former senior Ukrainian police officer Lieutenant General Aleksey Pukach, who was detained on Tuesday, is said to have named those who ordered the murder. Investigators have not revealed who has been named by Pukach, but admit they include some government officials.

Georgy Gongadze, known for his criticism of Ukraine’s previous leadership, disappeared in Kiev on September 16, 2000. That November his decapitated body was found in a forest in the Kiev Region.

Shortly afterward, a former major in the presidential security detail, Nikolay Melnichenko, went public about the tape, which he supposedly recorded in the office of then-president Leonid Kuchma. On the tape, a person with the voice resembling that of Kuchma gives an order to “take care of the journalist.”

Regardless of the scandal, Ukrainian investigators do not consider the ex-president among those involved in the case. Melnichenko, for his part, was forced to emigrate to the United States.

Last year, three interior ministry officers were found guilty of involvement in killing Gongadze and sentenced to 12-13 years in prison, but those who ordered the hit have yet to be found.