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Ukraine court again postpones Tymoshenko tax evasion trial

A Ukrainian Court on Tuesday rejected the defense's motion to suspend the tax evasion trial against former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko [personal website; JURIST news archive] until her health is recovered but adjourned the trial to November 23 since Tymoshenko could not attend. The hearing was set to resume Tuesday, but the presiding judge ruled [Reuters report] that it was impossible to proceed in the absence of Tymoshenko and her lawyer. The prosecution accused the former PM of intentionally avoiding trial and stated that she ultimately has to stand against the charges. Defense counsel claimed [press release], however, that the trial is fundamentally unfair because the judges have constantly ignored the defense's motions while frequently granting those of the prosecution and disregarding what occurs within the courtroom. Tymoshenko has been calling the trials against her politically motivated. The tax evasion trial began [JURIST report] in April but has been postponed several times since then.

The trial against the former Ukrainian PM has sparked international criticism. In September the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee [official website] unanimously passed [JURIST report] a resolution [text] calling for Ukraine to release Tymoshenko from prison. It condemned the current Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych [official website] for his role in the politically motivated imprisonment. In August the Ukrainian Supreme Court [official website, in Ukrainian] upheld Tymoshenko's abuse of office conviction [JURIST report], reasoning that there would be no basis to rule in favor of the former PM and that the prison sentence is appropriate considering the charges against her. During the appeal the government denied allegations that the criminal proceedings against Tymoshenko were a measure initiated by Yanukovich to prevent her from participating in the October elections. The decision came only a day after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] held a hearing [JURIST report] on Tymoshenko's appeal. Also in August Ukrainian prosecutors urged the Supreme Court not to hear her appeal [JURIST report]. Prosecutors told the court that Tymoshenko's trial had already established her guilt in the case, and asked the judges maintain her seven-year sentence [JURIST report] in the case.

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