Canada concerned by Tymoshenko case

Sept. 29, 2011 at 9:44 AM

OTTAWA, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- The Canadian government became the latest Western power to express concern about the appearance of bias in the case against Ukraine's Yulia Tymoshenko.

Tymoshenko is in custody during a corruption trial related to a 2009 gas deal she helped broker with Russia while serving as Ukrainian prime minister. The deal helped restore gas supplies to her country and to Europe though the current government in Kiev says the deal hurt the already-battered economy.

Canadian lawmakers expressed concern that democratic momentum in Ukraine has "gone sour" on word of what Ottawa said was the political persecution of Tymoshenko.

"Political persecution is completely unacceptable," Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird told the House of Commons. "The appearance of political bias in judicial proceedings undermines the rule of law."

Ukrainian prosecutors said Wednesday they were seeking a seven-year jail term for Tymoshenko, a $195 million fine and a ban on her holding a position in the public sector for three years after her release.

Her defense attorney, Mykola Siryi, was quoted on Tymoshenko's Web site as saying the charges against Tymoshenko were "logically flawed and legally unspecific."

The U.S. and European governments have stated opinions that Tymoshenko is being persecuted in the case.

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