Human rights lawyer Tymoshenko trial turning into farce
Arkady Bushchenko, Head of the Board of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, expressed bemusement that the trial over Yulia Tymoshenko had continued in the absence of the defendant and her defence lawyers.
He told the Deutsche Welle Ukrainian Service that while the judge has the right to remove a defendant from the courtroom, the decision taken on Thursday by Judge Rodion Kireyev seemed controversial. “You get the impression that for this trial the defence and the defendant are redundant, that everything is already decided and the defendant simply gets in the way. He said the trial had already turned into senseless farce.
Bushchenko said that as the accused Yulia Tymoshenko was extremely inconvenient for the Ukrainian judgement system. “She tries to defend herself by all means, and the present justice system can’t cope since it is incapable of active, well-argued and adversarial prosecution”.
From the beginning of the hearing, Judge Kireyev several times demanded that Tymoshenko “stand when addressing the court”. She again stated that she was forced to remain seated since in this situation it was her only way of expressing her protest against the violation of her right to defence. The Judge stated that she was in clear contempt of court, while the representatives of the Prosecutor’s office accused her of trying to drag out the trial. It was at their suggestion that the Judge ordered Ms Tymoshenko removed. Deputies from the BYUT faction have called on the Prosecutor General to initiate criminal proceedings against Judge Kireyev.
As reported already, before the hearing, Yulia Tymoshenko had announced that she was planning to engage four lawyers, two of them from the American firms BDO and Covington & Burling LLP. She had said that the names of her Ukrainian lawyers would be announced in the courtroom however did not do get a chance because Judge Kireyev announced termination of the preparatory process and beginning of the court investigation and asked Prosecutor Lilia Frolova to begin reading the indictment.
Lawyer Oleksandr Plakhotnyuk offered to represent the defendant as defence counsel however Judge Kireyev rejected this and ordered him also to leave the courtroom.
Later the judge also prohibited photographs and video broadcast of the trial, saying that this was because the indictment contained Ms Tymoshenko’s testimony.