Ukraine’s high court yesterday postponed the appeal of jailed ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko against her seven-year sentence for abuse of power for a third time at the request of the prosecution.
Judge Stanislav Mishchenko said the next hearing would be held on August 16 and demanded to see records of the hospitalised opposition leader’s condition before proceeding with the case.
Two previous court delays in the hearing disappointed Ms Tymoshenko attorneys who want the case to go before the European Court of Human Rights once all legal avenues are exhausted in Ukraine.
Ms Tymoshenko did not attend the hearing because she is being treated in a Ukrainian state hospital for debilitating back pains she began experiencing shortly after her October conviction over a disputed gas deal with Russia.
But about a thousand of her supporters rallied outside the court building in central Kiev – host city of the Euro 2012 football tournament final that was played on July 1 under of fears of an EU diplomatic boycott.
Many European leaders ended up attending the matches played in Ukraine after the ex-Soviet country postponed all court proceedings involving the flamboyant political rival of President Viktor Yanukovych.
But EU officials have also backed Ms Tymoshenko’s claims that her case was politically motivated and have demanded her quick release.
The defence team – expecting the judge to uphold the sentence – had asked the court to review the appeal without Ms Tymoshenko so it could then file papers with the Strasbourg court.
The 51-year-old former Orange Revolution leader has refused to be either treated or touched by Ukrainian doctors as both a form of protests and alleged fears of being contaminated with a fatal disease.
The face of her one time ally and former president Viktor Yushchenko was disfigured by a mysterious poisoning that blamed on shadowy forces linked to Moscow.
Another former top Tymoshenko Cabinet member, ex-interior minister Yuriy Lutsenko, developed hepatitis in jail.
The back pains have also kept Ms Tymoshenko from attending a new tax case launched by prosecutors since her conviction that could almost double her time in jail.
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