Defense Lawyer Asks Ukraine Court to Acquit Tymoshenko

Posted September 28th, 2011 at 1:16 pm (UTC-5)
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Lawyers for former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko have asked the court to acquit her and release her from jail.

Defense attorney Yuriy Sukhov argued Wednesday that Ms. Tymoshenko’s actions did not constitute a crime and that the prosecution failed to prove her guilt.

Ms. Tymoshenko, who has been in custody since early August, is charged with abusing her powers by signing a 2009 gas contract with Russia without the government’s endorsement. She was jailed during the trial for violating court procedures.

Prosecutors have asked the court to find the 50-year-old Ms. Tymoshenko guilty of abuse of office and sentence her to seven years in prison. Ms. Tymoshenko has proclaimed her innocence and she and her supporters have dismissed the allegations as politically motivated. She says the trial is part of a political vendetta against her by President Viktor Yanukovych.

Ms. Tymoshenko is one of about 400 officials under investigation for crimes allegedly committed while in office. Critics say the only cases that have come to trial involve political figures opposed to President Yanukovych.

Ms. Tymoshenko rose to fame in 2004 as a leader of Ukraine’s “Orange Revolution” street campaign, which forced the Supreme Court to toss out the results of a disputed presidential election won by Mr. Yanukovych. The two competed in last year’s presidential election, which Mr. Yanukovych won.

Ms. Tymoshenko is expected to be the main opposition candidate in next year’s election. She will not be eligible to run if she is convicted.