A Ukrainian appeals court on Thursday postponed the appeal hearing for former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko [personal website; JURIST news archive], making this the third postponement in the former prime minister's appeal of her seven-year prison sentence. The case was last postponed in June [JURIST report]. The hearing to consider Tymoshenko's appeal of her conviction on corruption charges [JURIST report] was postponed until August 16 at the request of the prosecution [RFE/RL report] in order to allow time to further examine Tymoshenko's health. Although Tymoshenko has previously indicated that she would discontinue all appeals in Ukrainian courts [JURIST report], she is required to exhaust all national options before appealing to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website]. In a statement [text] on her website, one of Tymoshenko's lawyers said the postponement was political and that the prosecution was attempting to "create additional obstacles on the way to the European Court of Human Rights, which is scheduled to consider [her] complaint on August 28." Her lawyers also noted that Tymoshenko has repeatedly asked the court to continue with the appeal in her absence due to her health condition.
Tymoshenko is currently facing additional charges of tax evasion. On Tuesday, a Ukrainian court ruled that the tax evasion trial would be delayed [JURIST report] until July 23 due to Tymoshenko's inability to attend for health reasons. The court had previously postponed a hearing [JURIST report] in that trial and ordered Tymoshenko to be seen by a court-appointed doctor in June after she again failed to appear in court due to health concerns. Tymoshenko is reportedly suffering from a spinal condition which causes her debilitating pain. Earlier that month, the ECHR ended an investigation [JURIST report] into the health care conditions of Tymoshenko, finding that the Ukrainian government provided her with adequate care. She previously alleged that prison guards were beating her [press release, in Ukrainian], and refused to be treated [JURIST report] by prison doctors for back problems, believing they were under the direction of political rival President Viktor Yanukovych. Tymoshenko has already been sentenced to seven years in prison on corruption charges. Ukrainian prosecutors have also indicated that she will face charges [JURIST report] in a 1996 contract killing.