A Ukrainian court on Thursday began proceedings in the tax evasion trial of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko [personal website; JURIST news archive] who announced that she would not be able attend [press release] due to health concerns. Tymoshenko is charged with misappropriating funds [BBC report] during her service as prime minister in 1997. Earlier this month, Ukraine's Office of the Prosecutor General [official website, in Ukrainian] granted a request for Tymoshenko to receive medical treatment outside of the jail [JURIST report] in which she is being imprisoned. Tymoshenko will now be able to receive treatment in Ukrainian facilities for back pain after she suffered a slipped disk. Reports indicate Tymoshenko has refused to be treated by Ukrainian doctors in the prison because she believes they are acting under the direction of her rival, current Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych [BBC profile].
Tymoshenko is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence after she was convicted of abusing her power [JURIST report] during her service as prime minister. In December the EU policy chief criticized the court of appeals [JURIST report] in Tymoshenko's case for not addressing the actual legal issues of the case. Earlier that month, Tymoshenko ended her appeal in Ukrainian courts [JURIST report] in order to focus on appeals in the ECHR. Her initial appeal was denied [JURIST report] that same month.