Joint statement on ninth anniversary of Gyorgy Gongadze's death
(IFJ/IMI/IFEX) - 15 September 2009 - It is now nine years since the murder of our colleague Gyorgy Gongadze on 16 September 2000, and on this occasion we once again call on the Ukrainian authorities to undertake a proper investigation of those who ordered the killing.
The brutal kidnapping and murder of Gyorgy, which took place after senior Ukrainian politicians had discussed harming him, was notorious, because it underlined the impunity with which those with power could use assassination as a means to silence journalists.
This summer there have been important developments in the case. Olexiy Pukach, who has been named by investigators and in court proceedings as the murderer, has been arrested. It has been reported that, as a result of information that Pukach gave to prosecutors, a skull that is almost certainly Gyorgy's has been recovered.
These steps forward in the investigation are welcome. But they should not conceal the stark truth: that no discernible progress has been made in determining how, and by whom, the killing was ordered. The issues raised in that regard - by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, by ourselves, and by our Ukrainian colleagues - have been almost completely ignored by the investigating authorities.
There were many obvious leads that could have been followed to determine the patterns of command in the internal affairs ministry and the government of the time. The trial and conviction of Pukach's three accomplices in 2008 opened up even more avenues than there were before. But most of these potential streams of information have been allowed to run dry.
The fourth of our reports monitoring the investigation of Gongadze's murder, published today, covers these issues in detail.
On this anniversary of Gyorgy's tragic death, we call:
- On the Ukrainian authorities to review and renew the investigation into those who ordered the killing, and to ensure that they are brought to justice;
- On the Ukrainian authorities to instigate criminal proceedings against senior officials who have deliberately obstructed the investigation;
- On governments and civil society across Europe to continue the fight against impunity for those in positions of power who sanction and organise violence against journalists.
Aidan White, General Secretary, International Federation of Journalists
Myroslava Gongadze, The Gongadze Foundation
Jeremy Dear, National Union of Journalists of UK and Ireland
Alla Lazareva, Institute of Mass Information
To read the report:
f4c493a-206a968.pdf (129 KB)