Yury Lutsenko: Hunger strike is the only way left



Former Minister of Internal Affairs, Yury Lutsenko, declared a hunger strike on Friday in protest at his continued remand in custody. He said that he had no other means left of expressing his protest against the violation of his human rights but to declare a hunger strike.  He spoke of this to journalists in the court hearing which again extended his remand in custody, this time until 26 May.

Lutsenko said that he would refuse to eat as long as his body held out.  Asked if this was a spontaneous decision, or taken beforehand, Yury Lutsenko said: “I warned the investigators of this in advance when yesterday I had fully familiarized myself with the case material. They didn’t in fact want to give it to me to read. I said that I had read the file and if, regardless of that, they insist on my continuing to be held in prison, I will be left no other choice. Since I have no legal arguments, or more accurately, they don’t work. I was illegally arrested, am being held illegally. This is all unlawful, but nobody wants to listen. Therefore the last way open to me is to defend my freedom in this way.”

He also said that he would be seeking trial by jury since he has a constitutional right to this.

On Thursday 21 April the Kyiv Court of Appeal remanded Yury Lutsenko in custody for yet another month, thus allowing the application of the Prosecutor General’s Office which claimed that the period of custody needed to be extended to 5 months.  The court justified its position by saying that despite the fact that Yury Lutsenko had finished familiarizing himself with the case material, this had still not been done by his lawyer and the other person accused, Leonid Prystuplyuk, Lutsenko’s former driver.

The former minister was arrested on 26 December last year with the help of an SBU Special Forces Alfa unit when he left his home to walk the dog.

Yury Lutsenko is charged with abuse of position and causing losses to the State. He rejects the accusations and calls them politically motivated.  The political nature of the prosecutor has also been alleged by former Prime Minister and leader of BYuT, Yulia Tymoshenko, who was summoned for the latest interrogation to the Prosecutor General’s Office on Wednesday.

International human rights organizations, as well as Members of the European Parliament, representatives of the EU and the USA have expressed concern at the selective nature of Ukrainian justice.

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