BRAMA, August 6, 2011, 9:00 AM ET|
Tymoshenko Arrested and Detained in Custody
Kyiv, Ukraine, 5 August, 2011 Judge Rodion Kireyev today upheld a submission from the Prosecutor General’s Office to change the restrictions on opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko from a travel restriction to arrest and detention. The former Prime Minister of Ukraine will now be held in custody as the trial continues. The alleged grounds for her detention are spurious with the judge saying it was "because of regular violations, interference in establishing the truth and violating court order."
The petition by the prosecutors to change the restrictions on Ms. Tymoshenko violated Ukrainian law which prohibits the submission of a petition during the questioning of a witness. The judge accepted and acknowledged the petition and ruled on it after the questioning of Mr Prime Minister Mykola Azarov.
During the defence’s questioning of Mr Azarov, the judge disallowed any questions relating to RosUkrEnergo, the controversial intermediary company removed from the gas trade by the gas agreement with Russia in 2009.
At around 4.00pm (Kyiv time) the judge considered the petition and announced Ms. Tymoshenko’s arrest and detention in custody.
"To say this trial is a circus gives it too much credibility. It is politically motivated and demeans Ukraine on the international stage. It saddens me greatly that our country has come to this," said Ms. Tymoshenko.
On 27 July the prosecutors submitted a petition to change the restrictions from a travel ban to arrest and detention but the petition was refused.
The trial of Ms. Tymoshenko has involved numerous breaches of court procedure, Ukrainian law and international law. Successive lawyers representing the former premier have been denied sufficient and reasonable time to study the case materials. Yesterday the defence petitioned to call 31 witnesses for questioning. The judge allowed only two. At other stages in the trial Ms. Tymoshenko was denied legal representation (15 and 26-27 July) and not given time to find and appoint new lawyers. On 15 July the trial proceedings were allowed to proceed without Ms. Tymoshenko or her lawyers present.
Ms. Tymoshenko is charged with exceeding her authority when she was prime minister and causing damage to the state of UAH 1.5 billion ($190 million), by signing a gas agreement with Russia in 2009. The agreement ended a damaging standoff with Russia which saw gas supplies disrupted to EU states. At the time, Ms. Tymoshenko was praised widely for resolving the dispute and removing from the gas trade the controversial intermediary company RosUkrEnergo, while transitioning Ukraine to European market prices for gas with a 20% discount.
The charges are regarded as politically motivated with many in the international community expressing alarm at the willingness of the authorities to criminalise what was a political decision. The goal of the authorities is to crush President Viktor Yanukovych’s main political rival and prevent Ms. Tymoshenko from running in the 2012 parliamentary and 2015 presidential elections.
Ms. Tymoshenko was taken away into custody at 4.40 pm. The trial resumes on 8 August at 10.00 am.
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