European Court of Human Rights Says No Political Motivation Behind Arrest of Tymoshenko

May 08, 2013, 03:47 ET from Ukraine Monitor

KYIV, Ukraine, May 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) says it has found no political motives on the part of the Ukraine Government in the arrest of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, as has been alleged by her legal team.

When asked in an interview with news agency Interfax if the Court would describe Tymoshenko's arrest as politically motivated, Roderick Liddell, the European Court's Director of Common Services, replied:  "The court did not make such a ruling."  

He explained that instead the court had ruled on a matter of criminal procedure in which Mrs. Tymoshenko had shown a lack of respect for the judge. She was found in contempt of court by the judge in the proceedings.

During pre-trial hearings in the case, which in 2011 led to her conviction for illegally signing a $10 billion gas deal with Russia without the authorisation of her Cabinet or the Parliament of Ukraine, Tymoshenko was ordered into custody by the trial judge following her repeated loud and abusive outbursts in the court room.

Liddell was quoted as saying that what the European Court had specifically found was that the pre-trial detention "was not in line with one of the principles of the European Convention."

The clarification by the European Court of Human Rights official is significant because both Tymoshenko and a number of media reports had previously claimed that the Court had indeed ruled that her detention was politically motivated.  

Tymoshenko's legal team last week claimed that this meant she should be immediately released, even though her appeals process is still underway and still awaiting another judgment by the ECHR.

When asked if the Court's ruling meant Tymoshenko should be released, Mr. Liddell, however, said he could not make "any overall interpretations" on the ruling.

"I think that this is the way to understand it," Mr Liddell continued, noting that the April 30th ruling related only to the pre-trial detention. "Mrs Tymoshenko is no longer in pre-trial detention. She is in a different situation, as she has been imprisoned after being convicted by a court. So she is no longer in the situation to which the judgment relates - pre-trial detention."

Ukraine's envoy for ECHR affairs Nazar Kulchytsky has said Ukraine would analyse the April 30th judgment on pre-trial detention, and could not rule out an appeal.

The Government of Ukraine took note of the ECHR ruling on the pre-trial detention issue last month but also welcomed the ruling by the Court that it had not found Ukrainian authorities responsible for violating a prohibition on inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. This too had been alleged as part of the appeal to the court by Tymoshenko.

The court has also separately ruled in Ukraine's favour regarding the access to medical care she has been afforded during her imprisonment.

A final European Court ruling on the overall criminal case, Tymoshenko's second appeal, was not imminent and might take another year or more, Mr. Liddell explained in his interview with Interfax.

The General Prosecutor's Office of Ukraine has stressed that the preventive measures of the pre-trial arrest were made under the country's former Soviet-era Code of Criminal Procedure, which was the law of the land back in 2011.  

This criminal procedure code has since been replaced by a newly enacted criminal procedure law that is more lenient and was written with the advice of the Venice Commission and other European institutions as part of a broader reform effort to meet European norms and standards.

SOURCE Ukraine Monitor