The FINANCIAL -- The trial resumed Monday of
Ukraine's jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko as pressure
mounted on the Euro 2012 co-hosts to drop the controversial case.
About a thousand of the opposition leader's supporters and the same number of her foes held rival rallies outside a courtroom in the eastern city of Khariv where she is serving a seven-year sentence on abuse of power charges.
Tymoshenko herself was absent from the hearing -- this one focused on her tax dealings dating back to the 1990s -- after being allowed to continue recovering in a Kharkiv hospital from her persistent back problems.
But EU states were formally represented in court by former Polish president Alexander Kwasniewski and Ireland's one-time European Parliament leader Pat Cox.
"Freedom for Yulia," Tymoshenko's supporters chanted while those on the other line of the riot police held up signs reading "The country suffered and she just kept talking" in reference to her 2007-2010 term as premier.
The case of the 51-year-old 2004 Orange Revolution leader has set Ukraine on a collision course with the European Union that has delayed the signature of an agreement that could pave the way for Kiev 's future membership in the bloc.
EU leaders support Tymoshenko's claims that her prosecution is a part of the current authorities' vendetta and some have boycotted football matches that Ukraine is hosting in four cities -- including Kharkiv -- alongside Poland.
According to EUbusiness, the two Euro 2012 semi-finals will be played Wednesday and Thursday while the final will be held in Kiev on Sunday.
The latest hearings began in April and have already been adjourned twice on account of Tymoshenko's health.
A two-metre (seven-foot) glass wall was set up inside the courtroom that enclosed a special space for Tymoshenko with a chair and table and even some potted plants in case of her future attendance.
Officials had initially ordered her presence before changing their mind on Sunday facing the prospect of protests from both her Ukrainian supporters and the West.
But Tymoshenko will also be in the news on Tuesday when a judge hears her appeal against last year's abuse-of-power conviction.