Ex-PM's trial for tax evasion delayed until September


A Ukrainian court yesterday adjourned the tax evasion and embezzlement trial of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko until September 11th after she refused to appear, citing poor health.

The opposition leader is serving a seven-year sentence on a separate charge of abuse of office linked to a gas deal she brokered with Russia in 2009 while prime minister. Her trial in Kharkiv for tax evasion and embezzlement going back to alleged offences in the 1990s has been put off several times since she has been unable to attend because of back trouble, for which she is receiving hospital treatment.

The court yesterday formally asked her to agree to a video link from her hospital bed to enable the trial to go ahead. She has refused such a suggestion in the past.

Ms Tymoshenko (51), the fiercest political foe of President Viktor Yanukovich, has dismissed all charges against her as politically motivated and is challenging her initial conviction locally and in the European Court of Human Rights. The EU has supported her, calling her case an example of selective justice and shelving agreements on free trade and political association with Ukraine. Mr Yanukovich has refused to intervene in Ms Tymoshenko’s prosecution, despite being urged to do so by Brussels.