Calls for Lutsenko’s release on health grounds
Former Interior Minister and opposition leader Yury Lutsenko’s lawyers are planning to call for his release on the grounds of health. Human rights activists and political analysts say that this would have a positive impact on relations between Ukraine and the EU.
Former Deputy Prosecutor General and now Lutsenko’s lawyer, Oleksy Bahanets, says that he is extremely concerned over his client’s health. He points out that various commissions have all given the same diagnosis. All confirm that Mr Lutsenko is suffering from cyrrhosis of the liver and portal hypertension. With such illnesses, a person cannot be held in prison, he says and adds that the State Penitentiary Service is obliged to apply to the court for his release. Such an application, however, has yet to appear.
Meanwhile Kyiv Post reports that former Polish President Kwaśniewski and former EP President Cox have written to President Yanukovych asking him to release Lutsenko on health grounds. They are hoping for a response before the EU-Ukraine Summit on 25 February.
Deterioration in Lutsenko’s health was seen last year during the investigation and court trial. Lutsenko’s representative at the European Court of Human Rights Valentina Telychenko stresses that the Court found his arrest and detention to have been unlawful. She says that another judgement is awaited over an application claiming torture leading to serious illnesses, while a third regarding violation of the right to a fair trial they are ready to lodge before the end of the cassation appeals which they believe is being artificially dragged out.
Yevhen Zakharov, Co-Chair of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group points out that the European Court of Human Rights judgement found Lutsenko to be a political prisoner.