First day of Tymoshenko appeal in style of original trial reports that the first day under Judge Olena Sytailo was like under Judge Kireyev during the Pechersky District Court  trial: journalists were not allowed into the courtroom, deputies fought their way in and all the defence’s applications were rejected.

On Thursday the Kyiv Court of Appeal began its preliminary examination of the appeal against Yulia Tymoshenko’s conviction and 7 year sentence.

The hearing began half-closed: around 50 journalists and deputies were not allowed in. The media representatives were told that there wasn’t room and that they could watch the hearing from the conference hall. The parliamentarians were able to get into the courtroom only close to lunchtime, after lengthy wrangles and run-ins with the Berkut Special Force officers, as well as complaints of infringements of the law to the Chair of the Court of Appeal.

Ms Tymoshenko herself was not present, according to Press Secretary Marina Soroka, her state of health did not permit. The court rejected the application from Ms Tymoshenko’s lawyers to adjourn the hearing until the former Prime Minister was better.

The court also rejected the application to have the Reporting Judge removed.  The grounds given were that the procedure for her appointment to examine the appeal aroused doubts. He said that she had been appointed virtually on the eve of the hearing. “The amount of material in the case is large, it was impossible to prepare in two days. That raises doubts as to the judge’s objectivity”  The defence pointed out that the computerized system for judge selection meant that Irina Horb was supposed to preside, and they had been given no information as to why she had been replaced.

Judge Sytailo stated that Judge Horb had herself asked to be removed since she had previously examined the case of former Deputy Head of Naftohaz, Ihor Didenko, this in her view precluding her being involved in hearing the Tymoshenko case. Judge Sytailo asserted that the computerized system had then been used again without any interference.

Judge Sytailo announced a 15 minute break after receiving the next application to release ailing Yulia Tymoshenko from the SIZO [detention centre].  This dragged on for an hour at which point journalists saw an ambulance coming. 

It was learned later that the doctors came to the judge who had been taken ill. According to Ms Tymoshenko’s assistant, Mykhailo Lyvynsky, she was given medical assistance in the courtroom. When journalists asked whether it had been visible during the court hearing that the judge was feeling ill, Mr Lyvynsky answered: “It was visible that she didn’t want to hold the hearing”.

Two hours later the judge returned to the courtroom in order to finish hearing the parties’ addresses. She then disappeared again and returned an hour and a half later to reject almost all the defence’s applications.

Ms Tymoshenko remains in the SIZO, the defence was refused a judicial investigation and the court refused to allow defenders Vlasenko and Tytarenko onto the case.

The next hearing, on the merits of the case, is scheduled for 13 December. 

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