The petition for sentence recalculation was filed by Pukach's lawyer.
The court record reads that the defendant was held in the remand prison from July 21, 2009 to Jan. 6, 2016, that is, about 6.5 years.
The court stressed that the legislation provides for certain periods while serving the life sentence, the expiration of which changes the legal status of the convicted person. In particular, a convicted person gains the right to seek pardon after serving at least 20 years of one’s sentence.
Moreover, according to part 2 of article 87 of Ukraine’s Criminal Code, the act of pardon can replace the life imprisonment with no less than a 25-year prison term.
The court granted the petition and converted 6.5 years of Pukach’s pre-trial detention into 13 years of primary penalty. Thus, the convict had already served more than 14 years in jail as of Jan. 10, 2017.
Founder of Ukrainska Pravda news website, journalist Heorhii Gongadze disappeared Sept. 16, 2000. His decapitated corpse was later found in the forest in Kyiv's vicinity. Ex-Chief of Interior Ministry's Directed Surveillance Department Oleksii Pukach was arrested on suspicion of the murder in a village in the Zhytomyr region July 21, 2009.
The investigation found that Pukach received a verbal order to eliminate Heorhii Gongadze from then Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Yurii Kravchenko. The criminal ring consisting of Interior Ministry officers Valerii Kostenko, Oleksandr Popovych (both sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2008), Mykola Protasov (got 13 years in prison in 2008) and led by Pukach turned out to be behind the murder committed Sept. 17, 2000.
The court found Pukach guilty and sentenced him to life imprisonment Jan. 23, 2013. Asked by the judge whether he agreed with the verdict, Pukach said: "I will agree with it as soon as I'm sharing my cell with Kuchma and Lytvyn." The Kyiv Court of Appeal upheld the verdict Jan. 6, 2016.