Thursday, February 24, 2011

IFJ calls for change of investigators in unsolved murder case

IFJ calls for change of investigators in unsolved murder case

(IFJ/IFEX) - 18 February 2011 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its regional organisation, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), have today called for the investigation into the disappearance and probable murder of Ukraine investigative journalist Vasyl Klymentyev to be removed from the hands of the local police force.

Six months after Klymentyev's disappearance, the official investigation into "premeditated murder" has failed to make any progress. Meanwhile serious concerns have arisen about police conduct, including harassment of Klymentyev's partner, Valentina Udovenko, and illegal searches and seizures of documents on the premises of Klymentyev and his lawyer.

"Our research has shown time and again that murder investigations led by local police forces are often compromised when the victim is an investigative journalist reporting on corruption by powerful political figures," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "It is time this investigation was handed over to an external team free to act and investigate without fear of reprisal."

Klymentyev, a correspondent with "Novyy Styl" newspaper, was last seen on 11 August 2010 as he set off to visit properties owned by Stanisalv Denysysuk, regional tax director, and three other officials to investigate corruption allegations relating to their ownership and management. A few days after his disappearance his mobile phone and keys were found on a boat in a nearby reservoir. The leading witness, a police officer who accompanied Klymentyev to the Kharkiv properties, disappeared in September.

In their letter sent today, the IFJ/EFJ have called on President Yanukovych to transfer the investigation to the Attorney General's office. The letter further urged the President to take the necessary measures to ensure that those responsible for Klymentyev's disappearance are brought to justice.

"We will not be satisfied until both the murderers and those who ordered his murder are behind bars," warned Arne König, EFJ President. "Ukraine must at all costs avoid the errors and failings of the Georgy Gongadze investigation."

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