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Former Ukrainian president Kuchma questioned in lawmaker's murder case

April 11, 2013, 18:28 UTC+3
Shcherban was gunned down at the Donetsk airport on November 3, 1996
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Leonid Kuchma. Photo ITAR-TASS

Leonid Kuchma. Photo ITAR-TASS

KIEV, April 11 (Itar-Tass) - Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has been questioned in the case over the murder of lawmaker Yevgeny Shcherban, Deputy Prosecutor General Lilia Frolova said in an interview to the newspaper Ukrainskaya Pravda.

Frolova declined to comment on the information obtained during the questioning. "The testimony will be made public during the hearing of the case on the merits," Frolova said.

Earlier, Kuchma said there were no reasons to open criminal proceedings against former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko on charges of involvement in the murder of Yevgeny Shcherban.

"She's accused of all sins today, including Shcherban's murder. You can say all you want but there are no reasons to open a criminal case against Timoshenko," the former president said.

On January 18, prosecutors informed Timoshenko that she was a suspect in the Shcherban murder case. Investigators said the conflict over the division of the natural gas market in the Donetsk region was the prime motive behind the murder. Former prime minister Pavel Lazarenko is another suspect in the case. Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka said then Timoshenko was facing life imprisonment within the case.

Shcherban was gunned down at the Donetsk airport on November 3, 1996. The criminals fled the scene in a car. Shcherban, his wife, a mechanic and flight engineer died of gunshot wounds.

The total sum paid for the murder of Yevgeny Shcherban reached 2.82 million dollars, Ukrainian investigators said.

Timoshenko is serving a 7-year sentence at the Kachanovskaya penitentiary in the town of Kharkov, for exceeding her authority when signing the gas agreement with Russia in 2009. She has been in a Kharkov hospital in the recent months.

Lazarenko spent more than a decade in U.S. prison for financial fraud. He was set free on November 1, 2012. He had been accused of money laundering. Lazarenko asked San Francisco immigration authorities to grant him a temporary resident visa.

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