The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has begun its hearing of Yulya Tymoshenko's appeal against her conviction for abuse of office in 2009 while she was Prime Minister.

The ex-premier alleges that her detention was politically motivated; that there has been no judicial review of the lawfulness of her pre-trial detention in Kyiv; that her detention conditions were inadequate, with no medical care provided for her numerous health problems; and, that she was under round-the-clock surveillance in Kharkiv hospital.

She relies principally on Article 3 (prohibition of degrading treatment or punishment), Article 5 (right to liberty and security), Article 8 (right to private life) and Article 18 (limitation on use of restrictions on rights) of the European Convention on Human Rights

On Wednesday, Ukraine's highest court is scheduled to rule on her detention; previous rulings have consistently upheld the government, and Mrs Tymoshenko's daughter Eugenia says she holds out little hope that the next decision would be different.

The government's lawyer, Nazar Kulchitsky, denied Yulia Tymoshenko had been mistreated in prison, saying an inquiry determined that the prominent bruises were either self-inflicted or simply the manifestation of an earlier illness. When pressed by a judge, he could not explain how Tymoshenko could have bruised herself. Kulchitsky said Tymoshenko repeatedly refused medical treatment while in detention.

He acknowledged that she had been under video surveillance in violation of her privacy, but said there were no recordings of her. He offered little explanation for why Tymoshenko's cellmate was taken away just before the time when the former prime minister said she was attacked by the guards, except to say that she was supposed to undergo a medical check.

The European Court has already ruled that there were significant breaches of human rights in the legal process and conviction of Yuriy Lutsenko, a former ministerial colleague of Yulia Tymoshenko. The Ukrainian government is currently preparing to dispute the ruling.

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