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Ukrainian police detain former state guard service employee involved in "cassette scandal"

October 24, 2012, 17:11 UTC+3

Nikolai Melnichenko was arrested at the Borispol international airport in Kiev

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KIEV, October 24 (Itar-Tass) — Police at the Borispol airport in Kiev detained former State Guard Service employee, key suspect in the "cassette scandal" Nikolai Melnichenko, the press service of the State Security Service /SBU/ reported on Wednesday.

"On October 24, SBU agents, together with border guards, acting upon resolution by Kiev's Shevchenko district court, detained at the Borispol international airport Ukrainian citizen Melnichenko wanted by Interpol," the press service reported.

The SBU's main investigation department is conducting a probe into the criminal case against Melnichenko. He is accused of divulging state secret, forgery of documents and exceeding his authority.

He was put on the wanted list in September 2011. The Shevchenko court passed a resolution on selecting arrest as the measure of restrain for him because of violation of recognizance and avoiding the investigators.

Melnichenko was detained in Italy on August 3, 2011, and the Naples court had to consider his extradition. On August 124, he was released from custody. According to Melnichenko's lawyer Nikolai Nedilko, "Italian prosecutors saw no reasons for his extradition to Ukraine."

The Interpol bureau in Ukraine noted that the extradition procedure was continuing.

After the so-called cassette scandal Nikolai Melnichenko fled abroad. He has stayed in the USA recently.

Earlier, Melnichenko published the audio files he had made in the office of former President Leonid Kuchma during his official and unofficial meetings with a number of top politicians. A number of these files were related to the high-profile criminal case over the murder of Ukrainian journalist Georgy Gongadze.

Gongadze disappeared on September 16, 2000. Two weeks later, his decapitated body was found in a forest near Kiev. Alexander Moroz, the then speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, ordered to publish Melnichenko's audio files which allegedly confirmed Kuchma's involvement in the disappearance of the journalist.

The authenticity of the recordings has not been proven up to date, and Kuchma flatly denied his involvement, as did other top officials. In 2011 and 2012, courts of various levels ruled to drop the criminal prosecution of Kuchma over alleged involvement in the journalist's murder.


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