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Former Police General Formally Charged in Murder of Ukranian Journalist

Prosecutors in Ukraine have formally charged a former top police officer with the grisly 2000 murder of Internet journalist Heorhiy Gongadze.

The prosecutor general office charged Olexy Pukach Friday with kidnapping, murder and the destruction of documents. Authorities arrested Pukach Tuesday and later said he confessed to the crime.

In his Internet articles, Gongadze had exposed corruption in the government of then-President Leonid Kuchma. Gongadze disappeared in September 2000. His decapitated body was found two months later outside the capital, Kiev.

Pukach headed Ukraine's Interior Ministry surveillance unit at the time of the crime.

Earlier, authorities said Pukach was thought to have personally strangled the 31-year-old victim.

Pukach was arrested in 2003 on suspicion of destroying documents in the case and then released. He disappeared a short while later. He was indicted in absentia for murder in 2005.

A Ukrainian court last year sentenced three other former police officers to terms of up to 13 years in prison for the Gongadze murder.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2005 that Ukrainian authorities mishandled the Gongadze investigation. The court ordered the country's government to pay $120,000 to his widow.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.