Trial of Ukraine's Tymoshenko adjourned until May 21

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 28, 2012 4:43 AM
Trial of Ukraine's Tymoshenko adjourned until May 21

KHARKIV, Ukraine (Reuters) - A court in Ukraine on Saturday adjourned the tax evasion trial of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko until May 21 due to the ill health of the opposition leader who is already in prison on an abuse-of-office conviction condemned by the West.

Judge Kostyantyn Sadovsky told the court in the city of Kharkiv it would be impossible to conduct hearings in the absence of Tymoshenko, who says she is suffering from chronic back pain.

The European Union saw Tymoshenko's jailing last October as politically motivated and has said its members would not ratify an association agreement with the former Soviet republic while she is in prison.

European politicians were also alarmed by Tymoshenko's allegations she was beaten by prison guards this month which prison authorities deny while state prosecutors are investigating her complaint.

Germany has offered to arrange for her treatment in a Berlin clinic but Tymoshenko's family says she will not leave Ukraine and it is not clear if the Kiev government would let her go.

Tymoshenko, 51, who was found guilty last year of abusing her powers as prime minister in brokering a 2009 gas deal with Russia, now faces charges of tax evasion and attempted embezzlement dating back to the 1990s.

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She has dismissed all charges in both cases as part of campaign by President Viktor Yanukovich to destroy political opposition.

Tymoshenko was one of the leaders of the 1994 Orange Revolution protests that doomed Yanukovich's first bid for the presidency, and served twice as prime minister before losing the 2010 presidential election to Yanukovich.

After losing power, she and her allies faced corruption-related charges that Western leaders consider examples of selective justice.

(Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Sophie Hares)