'Independent' praised for securing papers for murder prosecution

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The Independent Online

Mr Gongadze's headless body was found in Kiev in 2000, weeks after he disappeared. Former president Leonid Kuchma was heard on secretly made recordings apparently instructing colleagues to "take care" of Mr Gongadze because of articles he wrote exposing high-level corruption, which pointed to Mr Kuchma.

Solving the case has become a litmus test for President Viktor Yush-chenko. Mr Gongadze became a symbol for opposition against Mr Kuchma's authoritarian 10-year rule.

The case was reopened after The Independent published leaked documents showing police had followed Mr Gongadze until the moment of his disappearance and were probably involved in his abduction.

Petro Poroshenko, the national security agency chief, told British journalists in Kiev yesterday: "We owe The Independent a great deal of thanks for their help in securing documents that were crucial to pursuing the case." The papers showed Mr Kuchma's administration had blocked the inquiry and they included an autopsy report on a key witness, Ihor Honcharov, who died in custody. He was beaten and injected with a drug. Mr Honcharov had claimed the murder was ordered by General Valerii Kravchenko, Interior Minister, who commanded the police. He was found dead in March, just before he was due to testify in the case.

The new police chief in Ukraine has said he is determined that those who ordered the murder will be found. So far, two police lieutenants have been detained. The suspect who is held responsible by the prosecutor general's office, General Oleksiy Pukach, is in hiding and is possibly in Israel.