Hearings resume in Gongadze murder trial

18:06, 29 June 2006
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prosecutor says body can be handed over to Gongadze’s mother

The cross-examination of Mykola Protassov, one of the three policemen accused of the 2000 murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze, resumed in court on 26 June. The hearing had been due to take place on 20 June but was postponed because Protassov`s lawyer was ill, according to a press-release of the Reporters Without Borders, forwarded to UNIAN.

The judges said his testimony was similar to that of Oleksandr Popovich, the alleged driver of the vehicle that transported Gongadze. Valentina Telichenko, the lawyer acting for Gongadze`s widow, Myroslava Gongadze, said their testimonies matched.

The public prosecutor has meanwhile approved the return of Gongadze`s body to his mother, Lessia Gongadze, for burial. However, the Ukrainian press recently carried statements by his mother in which she said she no longer accept that the body really is her son`s.

A DNA test carried out in 2003 at the request of Reporters Without Borders found there was a statistical probability of more than 99.991 percent that the body found in a forest near Kiev in November 2000 was Gongadze`s. Lessia Gongadze had said at the time she was ready to take the body and bury it.

Myroslava Gongadze has meanwhile said she would return from the United States, where she is a political refugee, to attend her late husband`s burial in Ukraine next month if Lessia Gongadze gives her approval.

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