Trial To Open Over Ukraine Murder

KIEV, Ukraine -- The trial of three former policemen charged with killing one of Ukraine's most prominent opposition journalists is due to start on Monday. The killing of Georgiy Gongadze five years ago sparked widespread popular protests which ultimately culminated in last year's Orange Revolution.

Murdered journalist Georgiy Gongadze

Mr Gongadze was an outspoken critic of the former regime led by Leonid Kuchma.

President Viktor Yushchenko, who came to power when the old regime fell, says the case is a top priority for him.

Secret recordings

Mr Gongadze was abducted and his headless body was discovered later in a forest.

Valeriy Kostenko, Mykola Protasov and Oleksandr Popovych are accused of carrying out the actual killing in September 2000, but no-one has been charged with giving the order for Mr Gongadze's murder.

Mr Kuchma was later alleged to be implicated through secret recordings.

Last year a parliamentary commission examining the killing claimed the former president was one of the organisers of Mr Gongadze's kidnapping. He denies any involvement in the death.

When President Yushchenko came to power, he said investigating the murder was a matter of honour for him, but solving the case has subsequently proved to be difficult.

Last year, a former interior minister who was supposed to testify in the case committed suicide only a few hours before he was due to give evidence.

Ukraine's prosecutor-general has been sacked for making slow progress.

Source: BBC News