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KIEV, May 17 (Itar-Tass) —— Kiev’s Court of Appeals on Wednesday, May 16, sentenced former Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko to four years in prison.
In late February, Kiev’s Pechersky District Court sentenced Lutsenko to four years and seizure of property for having acted in excess of his powers and abuse of office as well as embezzlement of state property on a large scale.
Lutsenko’s prison term starts from December 27, 2010.
The prosecution requested four years and six months of prison for Lutsenko and confiscation of his property, and three years of prison, sentence suspended, for Pristuplyuk, his former driver.
The prosecutor believes that it has been proved that Lutsenko unlawfully provided a flat to Pristuplyuk, gave him other benefits and ordered the celebration of Police Day in 2008-2009 at the time of austerity policy proclaimed by the government.
Lutsenko was found guilty of acting in excess of his powers and of embezzling state property on a large scale.
He was detained on December 26, 2010 by the Security Service near his home. On December 27, 2010, the Pechersky Court ordered him into custody. The trial has been on since May 2011. The majority of 150 witnesses called to testify in court spoke in his support, and one-third did not show up.
Lutsenko said the verdict in his case was politically motivated and he would prove his case legally and politically.
“This court that does not take into account the results of expert evaluations read out a verdict prepared by politicians from the presidential administration in order to take me out of political life as a political actor. But I will prove my case in the legal and political field,” Lutsenko said in the courtroom in late February.
He believes that the verdicts showed “the absolute farce of the political reprisal”.
In late January, the PACE passed a resolution recommending Ukraine to clear former government officials of the charges of abuse of office and power. It warned that sanctions might be used against Ukraine if it fails to comply.
The parliamentarians said the articles of Ukraine's criminal code used to bring these cases were “overly broad and effectively allow for post-facto criminalisation of normal political decision-making. This runs counter to the rule of law and is unacceptable.”
These problems stem from “systematic deficiencies” in Ukraine's justice system, the Assembly said. It spelled out a series of steps to increase the independence of the judiciary, reduce excessive detention on remand, and end the existing bias in favour of the prosecution. It also again called for constitutional reform, and further changes in Ukraine's election law.
Failing to implement these recommendations within a reasonable timeframe, especially those relating to the criminal prosecution of former government members, would “raise serious questions” about Ukraine's commitment to the principles of democracy and the rule of law, the Assembly said.