Council of Europe Committee to Prevent Torture Visits Tymoshenko in Kyiv Prison

Posted November 30th, 2011 at 2:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Representatives from the Council of Europe's Committee to Prevent Torture have met with jailed Ukrainian opposition leader and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Wednesday's meeting, which reportedly lasted two hours, took place in an interrogation room in the Kyiv prison, where Ms. Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year sentence for abuse of power. The Council of Europe's mandate allows for travel anywhere in the 47 member countries and for confidential visits with anyone willing to meet with the committee.

Ms. Tymoshenko's lawyer, Serhy Vlasenko, said Tuesday that the preliminary hearings for Ms. Tymoshenko's appeal have been moved up 12 days to (Thursday) December 1. But he said she may miss the first hearing because she is in failing health and prison officials have refused to allow her proper medical treatment or visits by her family.

Ukrainian officials deny the report, saying the 51-year-old Ms. Tymoshenko's health is generally good and that she receives proper medical care for minor health complaints. President Viktor Yanukovych on Monday instructed authorities to provide Ms. Tymoshenko with medical care and attention that meet “European” standards.

Ms. Tymoshenko was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison last month for exceeding her power as prime minister when she signed a 2009 gas deal with Russia that her opponents say was overly beneficial to Moscow.

Ms. Tymoshenko denies the charges and has described her trial as “a political lynching” aimed at allowing President Yanukovych to rid himself of a political rival. She had been expected to be the main opposition candidate in a parliamentary election next year, but is not eligible to run if the conviction is upheld.

The United States, the European Union and several human rights groups have condemned the charges against Ms. Tymoshenko as politically motivated.