The NUJ and the International Federation of Journalists have welcomed the decision to convict former police chief General Oleksiy Pukach for the murder of the Ukrainian internet journalist Georgy Gongadze (see post below).
Press freedom campaigners and journalists' unions have been seeking justice for Gongadze following his murder in 2000. The conviction of Pukach comes at a time when many killers of journalists around the world escape prosecution and act with impunity.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “After many years of hard campaigning we are pleased that there will be some justice for Georgy and his family. The Gongadze case has come to epitomise the impunity with which politicians and other powerful people conspire to silence journalists.
“We warned repeatedly that the refusal to pursue the Gongadze case and the way that senior politicians of various parties obstructed and sabotaged the investigation, would encourage other officials to act with impunity against journalists.
“The conviction sends a strong message to those that want to silence journalists – the same justice should now also be extended to those others involved in Georgy’s murder.”
Jim Boumedlha, IFJ president said: "After more than a decade of tireless pursuit of justice for Gongadze, the conviction of his killer is good news indeed. Unfortunately, the decision feels like partial justice as others involved in his murder are still being shielded from responsibility."
Arne König, European Federation of Journalists president said: "We urge the authorities to reconsider their decision not to prosecute other individuals mentioned by Pukach. They should answer for their role in a public and transparent trial. It is the only way to do justice for Gongadze and allow his family to move on."
Gongadze, publisher of the Internet journal Ukrainska Prawda, was kidnapped on 16 September 2000 and his body found later beheaded.
- The NUJ supported the Gongadze campaign from the start and has background information about the case here – http://www.nuj.org.uk/innerPagenuj.html?docid=1736