The FINANCIAL -- Ukraine 's high court
on Tuesday postponed the appeal of jailed ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko
against her seven-year jail term for abuse of power until after the end
of its hosting of Euro 2012 football.
The court "postponed the hearing to 10:00 am on July 12," judge Stanislav Mishchenko told the court in Kiev , approving a motion brought by the prosecution.
This means the key hearing will take place once the spotlight is no longer on Ukraine which is co-hosting with Poland the Euro 2012 football which wraps up with the final in Kiev on Sunday.
Tymoshenko's supporters have accused President Viktor Yanukovych of pursuing the case in an act of revenge against his arch political rival while the European Union has also slammed the case as politically motivated.
The decision marks the second time in just over a month that the High Specialized Court of Ukraine for Civil and Criminal Cases has put off hearing the case after announcing a similar postponement on May 15.
Tymoshenko's lawyer Sergiy Vlasenko, who had strongly objected to the postponement request by the prosecution, said the authorities led by Yanukovych wanted to string out the appeal to delay the case going to the European Court of Human Rights.
The defence has to exhaust all possible legal options in Ukraine before taking the case to the European rights court.
"This is another piece of insanity in the Tymoshenko case," he told reporters. "Yanukovych does not want to see any ruling from the high court that could finally allow the European Court to hear Tymoshenko's appeal."
The Tymoshenko case threatened to overshadow Ukraine 's co-hosting of the Euro 2012 after top European leaders refused to attend matches in the country in protest at her treatment.
According to EUbusiness, however, most commentators agree that the football championships have been well-organised in Ukraine and provided a much-needed boost to the country's image.
Tymoshenko was first arrested in August and then convicted in October on charges of abusing her powers as prime minister in 2009 in a deal for gas imports from Russia.
She is serving her seven-year sentence in the eastern city of Kharkiv, which hosted first round Euro matches, but is currently hospitalised outside jail with back pains. She was not present in court for the Kiev appeal.
Whatever the outcome of this process, Tymoshenko faces other legal woes including a second trial on charges of fraud and tax evasion related to her work at a Ukrainian gas utility she headed in the 1990s.
In a potentially even more serious case, Ukraine 's deputy prosecutor general Renat Kuzmin said last week that he wanted to charge her over the murder of a wealthy Ukrainian deputy and his wife in 1996.
Yevgen Shcherban was gunned down at Donetsk Airport in a crime in which prosecutors have also implicated former premier and Tymoshenko ally Pavlo Lazarenko who is serving a sentence in the United States for money laundering.
Vlasenko said that the main aim of the authorities was to keep Tymoshenko from contesting parliamentary elections in October 2012 and reclaiming her position as the leader of the opposition.
"All the probes opened by Yanukovych against Tymoshenko are directly linked to the (parliamentary) elections," he said.
"The main goal of all these cases is to remove Tymoshenko from active involvement in the country's political life and to keep her from getting elected to parliament in the 2012 elections."