Ukraine stalling on the Tymoshenko case
The BBC Ukrainian Service writes that the decision by the High Specialized Court on Civil and Criminal Cases in Kyiv on Tuesday to postpone until 12 July the Tymoshenko appeal hearing elicited a virtually unanimous response from Members of the European Parliament.
The BBC’s Serhiy Voropaev notes that the court ruling has brought the position of different political factions together. Gone are the days when the socialists were aligned with Ukraine’s Party of the Regions, while the European People’s Party supported Batkivshchyna (Tymoshenko’s party). All the MEPs who agreed to comment on the ruling said that it was mainly aimed at dragging out the case.
German MEP Michael Haler saw it as “yet another attempt to prevent Yulia Tymoshenko’s participation in the elections and the possibility of handing the case to the European Court of Human Rights”.
Yulia Tymoshenko has already applied to the European Court of Human Rights however in her first application she could only complain about her being unlawfully taken into custody, as well as alleging violation of the European Convention, including Article 3 prohibiting torture and degrading treatment; Article 5 (the right to liberty and personal security) and 18 (restrictions in the application of rights limitations).
The problem is clearly that in order to make an application regarding the actual prosecution, Ms Tymoshenko should exhaust all legal remedies in Ukraine. If these are being dragged out, then eventually the European Court of Human Rights must decide that the remedies have been exhausted, but all takes time.
British MEP Charles Tannock also believes that Kyiv is simply stalling. He says that he strongly suspects that Kyiv is trying to win time until Euro 2012 is over, the summer holidays have started and no politicians from the EU will be around and available for commentary about the cassation appeal verdict.
He pointed out the European Parliament had also expressed its concern over delays in examining the cassation appeal in its 24 May Resolution.
MEP Werner Schulz from the German Greens totally agrees with his parliamentary colleagues. He believes that the ruling is evidence that nothing has changed in Ukraine despite focus on political persecution during Euro 2012.
In an interview to the Deutsche Welle Ukrainian Service, the Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union Arkady Bushchenko also called the reasons for the delay unconvincing. He is not however certain that Ms Tymoshenko’s lawyers will be able to avoid the High Specialized Court level. He says that the defend are citing Article 6 of the Convention (where reasonable time frame is an aspect of the right to a fair trial – translator). He thinks it highly unlikely that the European Court of Human Rights will begin its examination of the case just because of the High Court’s postponement of the hearing. He believes the delay would need to be over months, and points out that cases in Ukraine due to the higher courts’ workload often drag on for years.