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Ukraine's ex-president Kuchma charged over Gongadze murder

RIA Novosti

17:15 24/03/2011

MOSCOW, March 24 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's former President Leonid Kuchma said on Thursday he had been formally charged in connection with the 2000 death of investigative journalist and regime critic Georgy Gongadze.

"I have been charged," Kuchma told reporters after he emerged from questioning. "I am reading the list of charges and will come here on Monday again."

He did not say exactly what the charges were because "I have not yet read them."

However, Yuriy Boichenko, spokesman for the Prosecutor General's Office, said the 10-year statute of limitations on murder had expired.

Ukrainian prosecutors on Tuesday opened a criminal case against Kuchma, the president of Ukraine in 1994-2005, on suspicion of involvement in Gongadze's murder.

Gongadze's decapitated body was found in a forest near Kiev in November 2000.

Kuchma has denied any involvement.

In June 2008, three former employees of the Interior Ministry's criminal investigations department were found guilty of murdering Gongadze. The officers said they killed the journalist on orders from the former head of the ministry's criminal investigations department, Lt. Gen. Oleksiy Pukach.

Pukach was arrested in the summer of 2009 and is now awaiting trial.

In September, prosecutors said Yuriy Kravchenko, interior minister in 2000, of ordering the murder. Kravchenko purportedly committed suicide in 2005.