Kuchma and aides 'ordered killing of journalist'

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Mr Gongadze's decapitated body was found in a forest outside Kiev two weeks after he was abducted in September 2000 while investigating allegations of corruption at the heart of Mr Kuchma's government.

Mr Gongadze, 31, co-founder of the internet newspaper Ukrainskaya Pravda, had been beaten, strangled and burnt. Three former policemen are in custody in connection with the murder and have apparently confessed.

The case was reopened after The Independent published leaked documents showing police had probably been involved in the abduction. But those who ordered his killing have not been named or prosecuted.

The parliamentary commission said it had found unanimously that Mr Kuchma and his closest aides were behind Mr Gongadze's abduction. It said one of those involved was Volodomyr Lytvyn, who was Mr Kuchma's chief of staff and is the current speaker in parliament. Mr Kuchma and Mr Lytvyn deny the allegations.

The commission said its findings were based on a recording of Mr Kuchma, Mr Lytvyn and others discussing Mr Gongadze. Mr Kuchma is heard ordering his subordinates to "take care" of the journalist. The commission's findings will be passed to prosecutors.