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Former Ukraine police chief convicted of journalist's murder

Former Ukraine police chief Olexiy Pukach was convicted Tuesday of the murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze.

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Former chief of the external surveillance department of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry Olexiy Pukach says that the former president Leonid Kuchma and the former speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn must to be together with him in the cage, after the verdict reading of his trial for the murder of opposition journalist Georgy Gongadze in 2000, on January 29, 2013 at Kiev district court. (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Ukraine police chief Olexiy Pukach was convicted Tuesday of the murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze.

According to BBC News, the Kiev court said that Pukach killed Gongadze, then cut off his head. Pukach is said to have confessed to the crime, but insisted he acted on the orders of former Interior Minister Yuri Kravchenko.

A few months before his death, Gongadze founded news website Ukrainskaya Pravda, which heavily criticized then President Leonid Kuchma.

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His murder sparked protests against Kuchma, who denied involvement in the killing after an attempt to prosecute him in the case fell apart in December 2011. At the time, a judge ruled secret audio recordings that were said to incriminate him could not be used in court because they had been obtained through "illegal means."

Pukach had been on the run for four years before his arrest in July 2009, reported The Guardian. He was apprehended a year after a Ukrainian court gave jail terms of 12 and 13 years to three other former police officers for their roles in Gongadze's murder.

When asked by a judge if he understood his life sentence, Pukach, held inside a metal cage in the courtroom, said: "I'll understand it better when Kuchma and [then presidential chief of staff Volodymyr] Lytvyn are seated here alongside me."

Valentyna Telychenko, the lawyer for Gongadze's widow Miroslava, said she would appeal, said Agence France-Presse, noting that the court did not name those truly behind the murder.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/130129/former-ukraine-police-chief-convicted-journalists-murder