Strasbourg is being asked to consider the case of the jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. The ex-premier, who claims charges are politically motivated, also awaits an imminent Kyiv appeal decision.
Tuesday's half-day hearing in the French city stems from a complaint filed with the European Court of Human Rights in August last year over her pretrial detention and medical care.
Tymoshenko had claimed there was a political vendetta behind the charges and that she had not received adequate medical care for her health problems.
Luxembourg judge Dean Spielmann said the court would hold private deliberations, only making its ruling public at a later stage, without giving a specific date. At the hearing, the three judges present questioned both Tymoshenko's team and Ukrainian government representatives about her detention conditions and the medical treatment given to her.
Ahead of the proceedings, Tymoshenko's lawyer said that he expects a positive result by the end of September. "Then we will have it in black and white, that Tymoshenko is in jail illegally."
Last October, the 51-year-old was given seven years in prison by a Ukraine court for abuse of office, a sentence that generated strong criticism from EU leaders. Prosecutors claimed Tymoshenko's brokering of a gas deal with Russia went against national interests, forcing Ukraine into paying excessive energy prices.
While the appeal currently before the European Court of Human Rights is about her health and the events in the run-up to her conviction, the ex-premier is also awaiting the outcome of an appeal to a high court in Ukraine about the result of the trial itself.
‘A political, not criminal, action'
Tymoshenko has not attended that trial herself, receiving treatment for health problems, which include a herniated disc. Her defense team argues that her decisions had been a political act and did not constitute a crime.
If the Ukraine appeal is rejected, it is expected that Tymoshenko's defense team would also refer that case to Strasbourg.
So far, decisions made by the European Court of Human Rights ruled have been broadly in Tymoshenko's favor. The court's rulings are binding on signatories of the European Convention of Human Rights, which include Ukraine.
The court ruled in March that Ukraine should provide Tymoshenko with better medical care. In July it ruled that the 2010 arrest and pretrial detention of one of her allies, former Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko, had violated his rights.
In a separate trial, set to resume in September, Tymoshenko is accused of embezzlement and tax evasion during the 1990s.
Tymoshenko was one of the leaders of Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution which helped derail current President Viktor Yanukovich's first bid for the presidency.
rc/mkg (AFP, Reuters)