Aug. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine’s former prime minister, asked the European human rights court to condemn her imprisonment as she fights a conviction related to approving a 2009 natural gas import contract.
Tymoshenko told her lawyer to tell the European Court of Human Rights today that the tribunal is “the only hope” for her against what she has described as a politically-motivated prosecution aimed at muting the opposition before the country’s October parliamentary elections.
“She is absolutely isolated” and has been deprived of rights normally given to Ukrainian prisoners, her lawyer, Serhiy Vlasenko, told the judges in Strasbourg, France, today. He said he saw her yesterday and “she asked me to address you” for help, “because there is no fair judiciary in Ukraine.”
Tymoshenko, 51, was among the leaders of the 2004 Orange Revolution. She has accused Viktor Yanukovych, who defeated her in the 2010 presidential election, and his administration, of corruption and violating democratic principles. The case has eroded U.S. and European trust in the former Soviet republic, and the European Union, U.S. and Russia have condemned her conviction.
Last year, Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in jail and banned from public office for three years by a Ukrainian court that ruled the natural gas deal was an abuse of office. The court found she harmed Ukraine by signing the gas supply and transit accord with Russia in 2009, ending a price dispute that had disrupted deliveries for weeks during freezing weather.
Nazar Kulchytskyy, a lawyer for the Ukrainian government, denied Tymoshenko was mistreated, arguing she resisted efforts to provide her medical treatment in prison. He also defended her pretrial detention as necessary to ensure she didn’t flee or interfere with an investigation, and said round-the-clock surveillance was necessary, not excessive.
An appellate court in the capital, Kiev, is scheduled to rule on Tymoshenko’s request to overturn the verdict tomorrow. The human rights court requires that domestic appeals be exhausted before a person can turn to them, so Tymoshenko’s defenders must wait to appeal against her actual prosecution until that court issues its decision. Vlasenko said after today’s hearing that he doesn’t expect the conviction to be overturned and plans to amend her human rights complaint to appeal against her conviction as well.
Eugenia Tymoshenko, the jailed ex-premier’s daughter, said in an interview after the hearing that, until she can fight the conviction itself “it is my mother’s and my only hope to see” the human rights court say there have been “unacceptable breaches of rights” in her treatment.
Yanukovych has said the natural gas contract has cost the country $12 billion of losses over the last two years.
In March, the human rights court asked Ukraine’s government to ensure Tymoshenko had adequate medical care. When guards found her lying on the floor in pain, resisting transfer to a hospital, she was wrapped in a blanket, beaten and forcibly moved, her daughter said today. Her lawyer, Vlasenko, said he saw the bruises days later when he was allowed to meet her.
Kulchytskyy said the bruises were probably either self-inflicted or a result of a prior medical condition and said Tymoshenko resisted efforts to perform blood tests.
“All delays in providing the applicant with medical treatment were due to the applicant,” he said.
Dean Spielmann, head of the seven-judge panel, didn’t give a date for the court’s ruling.
The case is Tymoshenko v. Ukraine, European Court of Human Rights, 49872/11.
To contact the reporter on this story: Heather Smith in Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at email@example.com