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Criminal case against Kuchma was opened unlawfully, Ukraine's High Special Court confirms

June 26, 2012, 15:43 UTC+3
Kuchma stated that he wanted to find the "cassette scandal organizers" and prove that the Ukrainian authorities were not involved in the murder
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KIEV, June 26 (Itar-Tass) — Ukraine's High Special Court on Tuesday upheld the ruling which said the criminal case against former President Leonid Kuchma had been opened unlawfully.

The court said so after reviewing the petition by the Prosecutor General's Office protesting the annulment of its resolution by courts to initiate criminal proceedings against Kuchma on charges of exceeding of authority and office powers, which led to the mruder of journalist Georgy Gongadze.

Kuchma was not present at the session of the High Special Court.

On December 14, 2011, Kiev's Pechora district court overturned the resolution by the Prosecutor General's Office /PGO/ on opening a case against Kuchma. On January 20, the appeals court upheld the decision.

Kiev's Pechora district court acknowledged that the Prosecutor General's Office had had no grounds to open a criminal case against former President Leonid Kuchma.

Commenting on the court's decision, Kuchma stated that he wanted to find the "cassette scandal organizers" and prove that the Ukrainian authorities were not involved in the murder. "It is a matter of my honor to reclaim the good name not only for Kuchma but also for Ukraine, which I led for more than a decade," the former president said.

Kuchma's lawyers appealed against the resolution to open criminal proceedings against their client in November 2011.

Gongadze disappeared in Kiev on September 16, 2000. Two months later, his body was found in a forest near the town of Tarashcha, Kiev region.

Former major of State Guards Service Nikolai Melnichenko released the audio files he had allegedly recorded in Kuchma's office. On one of the recordings, a voice, resembling Kuchma's, gives an order to "have it out" with the journalist.

The ex-president flatly denied his involvement in the murder.

After the so-called cassette scandal, Melnichenko fled abroad. He briefly returned for the congress of a new political party he leads. In June, a court overturned the PGO resolution on dropping the criminal case against Melnichenko. Kuchma's lawyers said Melnichenko is now "hiding from criminal responsibility."

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