Tymoshenko claims prison beating, goes on hunger strike | News | DW | 24.04.2012
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Tymoshenko claims prison beating, goes on hunger strike

Imprisoned Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko has claimed prison guards beat her while forcing her to go to the hospital last week and has gone on a hunger strike. This is according to her lawyer.

Jailed Ukrainian opposition leader and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has begun a hunger strike after her prison guards allegedly beat her, her lawyer said Tuesday.

Attorney Serhiy Vlasenko said prison guards had kicked her in the stomach while taking her to the hospital by force last week.

"Her arms are all bruised and there is a huge bruise on her belly which has not disappeared even after four days," he said. "Yulia Tymoshenko has gone on a hunger strike."

The 51-year-old politician has been suffering from intense back pain, reportedly due to a slipped disk, and last week was taken to a hospital in the eastern city of Karkiv, where she is imprisoned. However she refused treatment, expressing fears that the doctors could poison or infect her and demanding she see a team of German doctors who examined her in prison earlier this year.

Guards have 'right to use physical force'

An Ukrainian woman holds a portrait of Yulia Tymoshenko

Tymoshenko and her supporters say the charges against her are an attempt to silence opposition

Intefax news agency quoted local prosecutor Hennadiy Tyurin as confirming her refusal to go to the clinic voluntarily.

"She got her things together, got dressed and then laid down in bed and said: I am not going anywhere," Tyurin said. "According to the law and the criminal administrative code, the prison service has the right to use physical force... They took her in their arms, carried her to the vehicle and took her to hospital."

Tymoshenko was convicted last year of abuse of power relating to her time as prime minister, and a new trial for embezzlement and tax evasion began on Thursday. She has said the trials are an effort by President Viktor Yanukovich to silence the opposition - claims supported in part by the European Union.

Yanukovich, who narrowly beat Tymoshenko in elections in 2010, says he is merely trying to root out corruption and that he holds no grudge against his political rival.

acb/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)