Pukach claimed that the murder of Gongadze was not premeditated and should be considered as murder by negligence. He said he had incriminated himself during the investigation since he was steamrolled by the security agencies and state functionaries.
According to Pukach, Georgy Gongadze was under cultivation as he was allegedly closely associated with the criminal groups of Pavlo Lazarenko, while security agencies were aware of his involvement in a number of crimes.
Pukach insisted that he was tasked to intimidate Gongadze and force him to cooperate with the secret services on the day of the murder. According to Pukach, he received this task from then-Interior Minister Yurii Kravchenko in person.
To complete Kravchenko's assignment, Pukach and his subordinate took Gongadze outside the city, where the journalist was allegedly forced to agree to cooperate. Pukach claimed that he did not strangle Gognadze, as the investigation had established, but the journalist died after he was kicked by Oleksandr Popovych, after which, according to Pukach, the body was burned to cover up the murder. Pukach asserted that then-Head of the Presidential Administration Volodymyr Lytvyn was fully aware of the incident and met with Kravchenko and Pukach next day after the murder.
The change of Pukach testimony was commented by Valentyna Telychenko, who represented the interests of Myroslava Gongadze in the court. According to Telychenko, the crime has been completely reconstructed during the years of investigation and trial, making it clear that Pukach murdered Gongadze deliberately and personally. This was confirmed both by the testimony of Pukach himself during the trial and the testimony of accomplices in crime as well as forensic tests, which left no doubt that Gongadze died of strangulation.
Asked what exactly, in her view, could have caused such a dramatic change in the testimony of Pukach, the representative of Myroslava Gongadze suggested that it might have been an attempt of Pukach to change his defense strategy and secure that his sentence to be altered from life imprisonment to 15 years in jail. Taking into account the "Law of Nadiya Savchenko", which has recently been adopted by the Verkhovna Rada, according to which one day of pre-trial detention is counted as two days of imprisonment, the change of sentence will allow Pukach, who has already spent six years in jail, to be released almost immediately, if such a decision of the Court of Appeal enters into force.
The next hearing of the Appeal Court of Kyiv into the case of Pukach is scheduled for tomorrow, Dec. 16, at 11 a.m.