Ukrainian President Considers Granting Pardon to Jailed Opposition Leader

Mar 01, 2013, 15:52 ET from Worldwide News Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine, March 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych stated that he would consider pardoning the former Interior Minister of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko, currently in jail for abuse of power, should the Ukrainian Court of Cassation decide the ex-minister was guilty as charged. Most recently, the former official filed a complaint regarding the refusal of the Prosecutor General's Office to initiate investigation of the illegal decision to detain Lutsenko.

Ukrainian President emphasized that the court should not be subject to pressure from the president and should operate along the lines of the current legislation.

Yuriy Lutsenko was arrested in December of 2010. Based on evidence provided by a criminal investigation, Ukrainian court found the former Minister of Internal Affairs guilty of embezzlement and abuse of office. On February 27, 2012, Kyiv's Pecherskyy district court sentenced Lutsenko to four years in prison with confiscation of property and a ban to hold public office.

The court ruling incriminated Lutsenko failing to observe lawful procedures in hiring and paying a close acquaintance of his while serving as interior minister (2007-2009). The ruling said that Lutsenko had given illegal perks to his driver Leonid Pristupliuk at the expense of the state: Lutsenko illegally provided Pristupliuk with an apartment and accounted his civilian labor record as police service record, securing him higher pension rate. Also, former interior minister is believed to have approved the budget overspending during the Police Day celebrations in 2008-2009 while the governmental decree on budgetary savings was effective.

In July 2012, the European Court of Human Rights made a decision that the arrest had violated Lutsenko's rights, ruling Ukraine to pay EUR 15,000 compensation to the ex-minister. In January 2013, Lutsenko received the payment.

Following the announcement of Lutsenko's sentence a number of European and U.S. politicians stated their disappointment with the Ukrainian court ruling (Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule, British Minister for Europe David Lidington, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, etc.) They deemed the case as politically motivated and called the sentence disproportionate to Lutsenko's guilt.


SOURCE Worldwide News Ukraine