(AP) Ukrainian prosecutors have opened a criminal case against unidentified officials in ex-president Leonid Kuchma's administration, accusing them of hampering the investigation into the killing of a journalist, the prosecutor general's office said Sunday.

The 2003 dismissal of chief prosecutor Svyatoslav Piskun hindered the probe into the 2000 killing of Georgy Gongadze, a journalist who crusaded against high-level corruption, the office said in a statement.

Piskun, now chief prosecutor under President Victor Yushchenko, has said he was forced out because of progress in the probe into the killing, which sparked months of protests that led up to the Orange Revolution.

Kuchma, who has denied accusations of involvement in Gongadze's slaying, dismissed Piskun upon the recommendation of a presidential anti-corruption committee, his office said. He was reinstated in 2004 following a court ruling.

A month after Yushchenko's inauguration in January, prosecutors indicted three former policemen for Gongadze's death. A fourth suspect is at large and being sought on an international warrant.

Gongadze got into what he thought was a taxi, and then was joined by three others and driven outside Kiev, according to evidence given by the suspects. The 31-year-old journalist was beaten and strangled, and his body was doused with gasoline and burned.
The Action Ukraine Report

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