[JURIST] Ukrainian opposition leader and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko [personal website; JURIST news archive] filed a complaint [press release] with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] on Tuesday, alleging violations of the European Convention of Human Rights [text, PDF]. The complaint argues that the charges against Tymoshenko are politically engineered by current Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych [official website, in Ukrainian], Tymoshenko’s political rival. In presenting the complaint, her lawyer, Sergey Vlasenko, said:
We ask to recognise that in the process of opening a criminal case against Ms Tymoshenko, during the investigation of criminal charges there has been a violation of sub-paragraph C of paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which suggests that a person can be detained only given sufficient evidence and given that a suspicion that a person committed a crime is well grounded. … I would like to remind you that on 24 May the Prosecutor General’s Office detained Tymoshenko, respectively, it detained her without sufficient reason because the case against her was opened on fanciful charges. It is precisely this that we would like the European Court of Human Rights to rule on.
Vlasenko also asked the the ECHR look at rules 39, 40 and 41 of the Rules of the European Court [text, PDF], which involve procedural errors he believes the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) [official website, in Ukrainian] has made. Last month, EU official Catherine Asthon [official profile] expressed concern [RIA Novosti report] that the latest charges against Tymoshenko were politically motivated.
In May, the PGO charged Tymoshenko [JURIST report] under Article 365 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine [text] with abuse of office [press release, in Ukrainian] in connection with signing gas import contracts with Russia. In Feburary, the PGO combined two separate criminal cases [JURIST report] against her and concluded the pre-trial investigation. The combined cases against Tymoshenko include charges initiated in December for allegedly misappropriating state funds during her time as prime minister from 2007-2010 and new charges in January alleging that she abused her authority and exceeded her official duties [JURIST reports] while in office by purchasing “1000 Opel Combo” medical vans at a 20 percent mark-up. Tymoshenko said the vans were successful in providing medical services to rural villages. The current combined case against her is not the first time she has been prosecuted. Last May, prosecutors reopened a separate criminal investigation [JURIST report] into allegations that Tymoshenko attempted to bribe Supreme Court judges. Tymoshenko’s government was dissolved in March 2010 after she narrowly lost the presidential election to Yanukovych. Tymoshenko had alleged that widespread voter fraud allowed Yanukovych to win the election.