A Ukrainian court on Wednesday dismissed an appeal by opposition leader Yuriy Lutsenko, who is currently serving a four-year sentence. Lutsenko, the former interior minister and ally of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko [personal website; JURIST news archive], was appealing [Kyiv Post report] his conviction on embezzlement and abuse of office charges. The court did not allow the appeal but slightly reduced the financial penalties Lutsenko is required to pay. This was Lutsenko's last opportunity at an appeal in national courts, leaving an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] as his final option. Similar to the case against Tymoshenko, this case has been looked upon suspiciously by the European Union as an attempt by current President Viktor Yanukovich [official website] to contain his opposition.
The trials of Tymoshenko and her supporters have been the subject of much controversy recently. In February Tymoshenko was fined USD $2,000 for contempt [JURIST report] of court after a hearing in Kiev. In January the state began investigating [JURIST report] her lawyer for several criminal charges. Tymoshenko has already been sentenced to seven years in prison on corruption charges and is currently awaiting trial on charges of tax evasion [JURIST reports]. In September the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee [official website] unanimously passed [JURIST report] a resolution calling for Ukraine to release Tymoshenko from prison. Last July, the ECHR ruled unanimously [JURIST report] that the arrest and detention of Lutsenko violated the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF].