Prosecutors Reopen Investigation Into The Death Of Chornovil

KIEV, Ukraine -- Prosecutors have reopened an investigation into the 1999 death of a charismatic opposition politician in a suspicious car crash, a spokesman said April 6.

The prosecutor general's office launched the new investigation on April 5 to look into persistent allegations that Vyacheslav Chornovil's death was a political killing, spokesman Vyacheslav Astapov said.

Vyacheslav Chornovil

Police and security services were ordered to re-examine old evidence and prosecutors have taken over the investigation. Astapov gave no other details.

Pressure has mounted on Viktor Yushchenko since becoming president in January to order a new investigation into the death of Chornovil, who was killed instantly on March 25, 1999, when car he was riding in slammed into the side of a truck.

Authorities said it was an accident but doubts grew when the government refused to investigate any other possibility and quickly granted amnesty to the truck driver, dashing hopes for an open trial. A video-recorded confession of alleged police involvement surfaced, but then was mysteriously misplaced.

Yushchenko has ordered new investigations in other mysterious deaths that occurred while his predecessor, Leonid Kuchma, was in power. Among the highest profile investigations that have been reopened by Yushchenko is the abduction and beheading of investigative journalist Georgy Gongadze in 2000.