Ukraine Prosecutors Want 7-Year Jail Term for Former PM Tymoshenko

Posted September 27th, 2011 at 1:44 pm (UTC-5)
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Ukraine began final hearings Tuesday in the trial of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko after a two-week suspension.

Ms. Tymoshenko is on trial in Kyiv on charges of misuse of power over a gas deal signed with Russia while she led the government in 2009. She has not been convicted, but Ukrainian prosecutors Tuesday called for a seven-year jail term for the former prime minister.

Ms. Tymoshenko, who has been in custody since early August, was jailed during the trial for violating court procedures. She has denied the charges.

Both U.S. and European Union officials have said they believe the trial is politically motivated.

Since she lost the presidential election against current President Viktor Yanukovich, Ms. Tymoshenko has been an active member of the political opposition.

She is expected to be the main opposition candidate in next year's election, but will not be eligible to run if she is convicted.

Ms. Tymoshenko is one of some 400 officials under investigation for crimes allegedly committed while in office. Critics have noted that the only cases to come to trial involve political opposition figures.

Ms. Tymoshenko rose to fame in 2004 as the leader of Ukraine's “Orange Revolution” street protests, which forced the Supreme Court to toss out the results of a disputed election won by Mr. Yanukovich. Mr. Yanukovich won the last presidential election in 2010.