UKRAINE, EU BRACE FOR TYMOSHENKO TRIAL OUTCOME

29.09.11


 

KYIV POST:  Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko gave an emotional, four-hour closing argument in her abuse of office trial approaching its denouement. 

The state prosecutor asked a judge to jail former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko for seven years on Sept. 27, as Ukraine pushed ahead with the trial despite warnings from the European Union that a conviction and jail term could block political cooperation and a free-trade agreement.

As closing arguments at the abuse-of-office trial were being read in Kyiv’s Pechersk District Court, EU leaders gathered in Warsaw for a meeting with President Viktor Yanukovych on Sept. 30 that could define the country’s prospects for Western integration.

European leaders have told Yanukovych to find a way to end the trial of Tymoshenko amicably, who is accused of exceeding her authority in sealing a gas-import deal with Russia in 2009. At stake are Ukraine’s attempts to get an association agreement with the 27-nation bloc ratified. EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule earlier this month said he thought Yanukovych had understood their message.

But as the trial restarted on Sept. 27 after a two-week break, the EU Ambassador to Kyiv, Jose Manuel Pinto Teixera, said: “It seems the message was not heard.

The Ukraine issue will be the hottest topic at the Eastern Partnership summit, because the leader of the opposition is now in jail. This is a rare occurrence in democratic countries.

It seems we are continuing a process that we would like to avoid for the sake of Ukraine, for the sake of the relations between Ukraine and the EU, for the sake of what we believe Ukrainians want for themselves,” he told students at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy on Sept. 28, according to Agence France-Presse.

Prosecutors said on Sept. 27 that they had proved their case. Besides the prison term, the state asked the judge to fine Tymoshenko $190 million in damages the government claims to have incurred in the 2009 gas deal. The leading opposition figure would also be banned from holding public office for three years and have to cover $1,250 in court expenses.

The judge in the case, 31-year-old Rodion Kireyev, rejected a petition by defense lawyers to examine further evidence.

As the Kyiv Post went to print late Sept. 29, Tymoshenko, 50, finished giving an emotional closing argument lasting more than four hours. Earlier in the day, her defense team comprised of three lawyers had finished giving their combined two-day final arguments maintaining the opposition leader’s innocence.

Standing up for the first time in the trial, Tymoshenko denied all the charges against her, calling them absurd. Holding back tears, she accused Yanukovych of orchestrating the case to sideline a political opponent.

“This trial is a classic case of political lynching,” she said. “No document has ever proved any guilt. They have falsified this entire affair.” She also said that she would broker the same gas deal as in 2009 all over again. 

Analysts have suggested that Yanukovych could find a way to decriminalize the crime under which Tymoshenko is being tried, or grant her amnesty.

Yanukovych, meanwhile, arrived in Warsaw on Sept. 29. There, Elmar Brok of the European People’s Party/European Democrats faction, demanded that Ukraine explain the prosecutor’s request to sentence Tymoshenko to seven years.

“We must also make it clear that a country with EU prospects must have at least democracy and the rule of law,” Brok said.

A Polish diplomat told the Kyiv Post that Yanukovych would meet European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Sept. 30. Analysts said Tymoshenko would be the main topic for discussion.

“The Ukraine issue will be the hottest topic at the Eastern Partnership summit, because the leader of the opposition is now in jail. This is a rare occurrence in democratic countries,” said Lukasz Adamski, an analyst at the Warsaw-based Polish Institute of International Affairs. “I think the questions now will be how to set Tymoshenko free for Yanukovych not to lose his face.”

Analysts have suggested that Yanukovych could find a way to decriminalize the crime under which Tymoshenko is being tried, or grant her amnesty.

Tymoshenko has been on trial since June and in prison for nearly two months.

The trial resumes on Sept. 30. Both sides are supposed to give closing statements, after which the judge will deliberate before reaching a verdict.

 

Yuriy Onyshkiv, Marck Rachkevych and James Marson


Read more: http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/113856/#ixzz1ZOFzKA2D

 

 

 



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