The Gongadze Trial

KIEV, Ukraine -- With word that there’s been a two-week delay called in the trial of three former city policemen fingered in the murder of muck-raking journalist Georgy Gongadze, we again beg the question: Will justice in this case ever be done?

Typical small Ukrainian courtroom

Kyiv Appeals Court Judge Irina Hrihoriyeva abruptly called a halt to the proceedings Jan. 9, which finally began after many delays, citing a medical condition of one of the defendants.

Rumor has it she’s looking for a larger courtroom in which to have the closed-door proceedings continue, but being known as a stickler for the rules, it’s more likely she called for the delay because word got out that too many journalists had snuck into the courtroom.

Despite the obvious implications this case has for free speech and the justice system in Ukraine, journalists have been given restricted access to the tiny courtroom, an irony that likely isn’t lost on Gongadze’s widow, Myroslava Gondadze, or Gongadze’s lawyer, Andriy Fedur, who said the courtroom’s size seems chosen to effectively bar the general public and media from following what’s going on.

Whether that’s true or not, the whole affair doesn’t help President Viktor Yushchenko’s image in this matter, what with his promises to reform the justice system and calling the matter of solving Gongadze’s murder “a matter of honor.”

Enough is enough, we say. Find a bigger courtroom, bring in some doctors to soothe the defendants, let justice be done, and find a way for the press to report on what is likely the most important criminal case in Ukrainian history. The world is watching, even if Ukraine’s public can’t.

Source: Kyiv Post