Ukraine Journalist's Mother Refuses Burial

KIEV, Ukraine -- The mother of a journalist slain nearly six years ago still doubts that a body in the morgue is that of her son, and she will continue to refuse burial, a newspaper reported Monday.

Heorhiy Gongadze, who wrote about high-level corruption on an Internet news site, was abducted in 2000. A decapitated body - identified by government authorities as Gongadze after numerous forensic tests - was later found in a forest outside Kiev.

The killing triggered months of protests against then-President Leonid Kuchma after a key witness later released tape recordings in which voices resembling those of Kuchma and others were heard conspiring against Gongadze.

Three former policemen went on trial for the killing earlier this year, while the investigation to find the mastermind is said to be continuing. Kuchma has denied any involvement.

Gongadze's mother, Lesya Gongadze, has repeatedly rebuffed official efforts to persuade her to claim the remains, which continue to be held in a morgue in the outskirts of Kiev.

Her refusal has helped, in part, to pressure authorities to solve a case that sparked public outrage against Kuchma, and remains a major test for President Viktor Yushchenko, who pledged to bring the journalist's killers to justice.

"I do not want to bury a stranger's remains,'' Lesya Gongadze was quoted as telling Gazeta Po-Kievsky. "Maybe the Prosecutor General's Office believes that if they give me the body, it will remove them of any responsibility for this dragged out case.''

Lesya Gongadze added that to claim the body, she would be forced to get a certificate "that wouldn't list the reason for death, the time or the place.''

Source: AP