• Ukraine's Supreme Court rejected the appeal by former prime minister Tymoshenko on abuse of power charges (Photo: byut.com.ua)

EU 'regrets' Ukraine court decision on Tymoshenko

29.08.12 @ 19:07

  1. By Nikolaj Nielsen
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BRUSSELS - Ukraine’s high court decision to toss out an appeal by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko may place an additional strain on EU relations with the country, EU foreign affairs spokesperson Michael Mann told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday (29 August).

“We want to work well with the Ukraine, have good relations with the Ukraine and these judicial problems are not helping that,” said Mann.

The court had earlier in the day rejected Tymoshenko’s appeal against her conviction of abuse of power over gas contracts with Russia for which she is currently serving a 7-year prison sentence. Her sentence, issued on 11 October 2011, also bans her from serving public office for three years.

Her defence lawyer, Serhiy Vlasenko, told reporters following the court’s decision that “the findings have no relation to justice”, reported Reuters. Vlasenko claims the court’s ruling is politically motivated and driven by Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovich’s desire to prevent her from running for office.

Judge Oleksandr Elfimov, one of three judges who presided the case, said Tymoshenko’s appeal was without basis and that her prison sentence was proportionate “to the gravity of the crime.”

Mann said the EU regrets the high court’s decision and is “deeply disappointed with the consequences of the current situation” which prevents leaders of the opposition from standing in the parliamentary elections.

He noted the trials have failed to respect international standards and have not demonstrated “fair, transparent and independent legal processes”.

The 51-year old former prime minister is also the leader of the main opposition party, the United Opposition Batkivshchyna. Ukraine’s Central Election Commission barred her earlier this month from registering in the upcoming elections in October.

The election commission claimed she could not run for office while in prison.

Another Tymoshenko ally, Yuri Lutsenko, currently serving a term in prison on charges of embezzlement, was also not allowed to run for the same reason.

Tymokshenko’s lawyers are appealing her case at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) claiming her detention is politically motivated and that there has been no judicial review of the lawfulness of her detention.

She launched a 20-day hunger strike in April to protest the detention and the alleged abuse by prison guards.

The Strasbourg-based court held a public hearing on her case on Tuesday but will not deliver a decision for the next few weeks or months, their spokesperson told this website. Her lawyers had told the court that her pre-trial detention was unlawful.

Tymokshenko’s detention is a possible stumbling block on on-going free trade negotiations between Ukraine and the European Commission.

The European Commission in April warned Ukrainian authorities to respect the rule of law and democratic values.

“We expect Ukraine to address the issues of politically motivated trials, independence of judiciary and selective use of law,” said EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fule in May.

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