7-year sentence sought for Ukraine's Tymoshenko

AP News
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Posted: Sep 27, 2011 12:46 PM
7-year sentence sought for Ukraine's Tymoshenko

Ukrainian prosecutors on Tuesday asked a judge to sentence former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to seven years in prison on charges she abused her office in signing a gas import contract with Russia in 2009, Tymoshenko's office said.

Prosecutor Liliya Frolova also asked Judge Rodion Kireyev to bar Tymoshenko from occupying government posts for three years and fine her 1.5 billion hryvna ($190,000 or euro140,000) for the alleged damages she caused the state energy company Naftogaz, said Tymoshenko spokeswoman, Natasha Lysova. Prosecutors were not available for comment.

Tymoshenko stands accused of violating legal procedures when concluding the gas agreement with Moscow at a price prosecutors believe was inflated. She maintains her innocence and says the trial is an attempt by her long-time enemy, President Viktor Yanukovych, to bar her from upcoming elections as a convicted felon.

Tymoshenko was jailed during her trial on Aug. 5 on charges of contempt of court. The judge said she disrespected the court by refusing to rise and prevented witness questioning with her comments.

The United States and the European Union have criticized the trial as politically motivated and EU officials have warned that Brussels could freeze plans to sign a landmark association treaty with Ukraine if Tymoshenko is thrown in jail.

Outside the courthouse, angry Tymoshenko supporters briefly sought to block the entrance to Kiev's Pechersk District Court. Earlier in the day, the supporters clashed with riot police outside the court house as they tried to make their way to the court.

The trial is to continue Wednesday morning.