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Timoshenko says court denies her right to last plea

September 30, 2011, 18:32 UTC+3

The judge said that the sentence would be pronounced on October 11 and the court recessed

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KIEV, September 30 (Itar-Tass) —— Ex-Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko says that the Kiev Pechersky District Court has denied her the right to the last plea.

Presiding Judge Rodion Kireyev offered Timoshenko to make her last plea several times before he recessed to the conference room but she said every time that she was not prepared as yet. Kireyev told Timoshenko that the last plea was a right of a defendant, not a duty.

“I know that this is my right and I do not waive it. The Criminal Code of Practice says that I can demand a confidential meeting with my lawyers any time. So I ask you for giving me this opportunity. I see no reason why not do that. Besides, you have a schedule and cannot break it,” she told the judge.

The judge said that the sentence would be pronounced on October 11 and the court recessed.

He said earlier that only the parties to the trial and the media would be present in the courtroom on the day the sentence would be announced.

The Timoshenko defense said they would appeal the possible guilty verdict. “If the guilty verdict is passed, the defense will naturally appeal to the Kiev Appeals Court,” lawyer Nikolai Siry said.

On Tuesday prosecutor Lilia Frolova demanded seven years in prison for Timoshenko. She said Timoshenko’s culpability in the gas case had been proven fully.

“On results of the court deliberations, we ask the court to find Timoshenko guilty and, bearing in mind the severity of her crime, to sentence her to seven years in prison on the basis of paragraph 3, article 365 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, and deny her the right to take certain positions for three years,” Frolova said.

In her words, no circumstances alleviating or exacerbating the culpability of Timoshenko were exposed in the course of the trial.

The prosecution also asked the court to meet the claim of Neftegaz Ukrainy for 1.51 billion hryvni (about $200 million).

The court declined the appeal of the Timoshenko defense for resuming the juridical investigation. Presiding Judge Rodion Kireyev said that the parties to the trial had considered every piece of evidence and documents to which the Timoshenko side had referred.

Timoshenko was accused of the illegal signing of gas contracts with Russia in 2009. The Prosecutor General’s Office said that she abused of office and caused more than 1.5 billion hryvni (about $200 million) damage to Ukraine.

Ukraine cannot secede from gas agreements with Russia signed by Yulia Timoshenko, Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov told the court, as he was giving testimony in the Timoshenko case.

“When I read that agreement I could not believe it had been approved by the government. The terms of that document make unilateral secession practically impossible,” he said.

The penalty for taking less gas than contracted “is harmful for the national economy,” and the pricing formula set for the period of ten years is unprofitable, Azarov said.

“The agreement betrayed the country and caused an increase of public utility charges,” he concluded.

The Russia-Ukraine gas deal 2009 strictly complies with national laws, the Russian Foreign Ministry said immediately after the arrest of Timoshenko.

“Bearing in mind the decision of the Kiev Pechersky District Court to arrest Yulia Timoshenko who is accused by the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office of exceeding her authority in the signing of contracts on Russian gas supply in 2009, the Russian Foreign Ministry states the following: all the gas agreements of 2009 were signed in strict compliance with the national laws of both states and international laws and their signing was preceded by instructions from the presidents of Russia and Ukraine,” the ministry said.

The trial of Timoshenko “must be fair and unbiased, meet every provision of Ukrainian laws and provide appropriate defense and compliance with elementary humanitarian norms and rules,” the ministry said.

The Kiev Pechersky District Court repeatedly rejected the appeals for releasing Timoshenko from custody.

The trial started on June 24, and Timoshenko was arrested on August 5 for ‘hampering the establishment of truth.’

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