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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

First Hearing in Gongadze Killing

KIEV -- A preliminary court hearing began Monday in the politically charged case of three former police officers accused of murdering journalist Heorhiy Gongadze.

The hearing was to consider the starting date of the trial and give lawyers for both sides an opportunity to file motions. Journalists were not allowed into the courtroom.

Gongadze, 31, who wrote about high-level corruption, was slain in 2000 after he got into what he thought was a taxi. He was then joined by three other people and driven outside Kiev, according to testimony provided by the suspects. He was beaten and strangled and his body was doused with gasoline and burned. Experts have said Gongadze was decapitated after his death.

Gongadze's body still lies in a Kiev morgue. His head has not been found.

The killing sparked mass demonstrations against President Leonid Kuchma. President Viktor Yushchenko has promised to make the case a priority.