Tymoshenko appeal delayed on health grounds in Ukraine

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 12, 2012 4:55 AM
Tymoshenko appeal delayed on health grounds in Ukraine

KIEV (Reuters) - Former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, whose jailing for abuse of power has soured Ukraine's relations with the European Union, had her appeal hearing postponed for five weeks on Thursday so doctors can establish whether she is fit to attend.

The high court in Kiev granted a motion by state prosecutors for the hearing to be put back to August 16 pending a medical examination of the 51-year-old.

Tymoshenko, the fiercest opponent of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, is on temporary release from prison, being treated for back trouble in a state-run hospital.

Jailed for seven years in 2011, she denies wrongdoing and says she is the victim of a personal vendetta by Yanukovich. Western governments have condemned her treatment as "selective justice", and the EU has responded by shelving agreements with Ukraine on free trade and political ties.

The case relates to a 2009 gas deal with Russia which Tymoshenko brokered as prime minister, and which Yanukovich's government says saddled Ukraine with an exorbitant price for gas imports.

In a separate trial due to restart on July 23, she faces separate charges of tax evasion and embezzlement dating to the 1990s, when she was a prominent businesswoman.

Tymoshenko was a leader of the 2004 Orange Revolution protests that derailed Yanukovich's first bid for the presidency, but failed to produce a strong unified government. Yanukovich beat her in a presidential election in 2010, since when some of her opposition allies have also faced corruption-related charges.

(Reporting by Andriy Perun; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)