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DONETSK, February 27 (Itar-Tass) – Former Ukrainian Prime Minister and opposition Batkivshchina party leader Yulia Timoshenko is trying to avoid criminal penalties in MP Yevgeny Shcherban assassination case, Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka said on Wednesday, February 27.
He believes that by refusing to attend court hearings, Timoshenko and her lawyer want to block the judicial investigation of Shcherban’s murder in 1996.
“Why doesn’t she want to come to court or take part in a videoconference? There is only intent – to avoid criminal responsibility. But if she is not guilty of these crimes, as she claims, let the court say so,” Pshonka said.
He reiterated that investigators have enough evidence proving Timoshenko’s involvement in the assassination of the MP, and this evidence should be presented in court.
“The investigators had no right to withhold these suspicions, given so much evidence against Timoshenko,” the Prosecutor General said.
Shcherban was shot and killed at Donestk’s airport in 1996. His wife and an airport employee were also killed in the attack.
Their son, Ruslan Shcherban, gave the Prosecutor General’s Office documents claiming that Timoshenko and former Prime Minister Pavel Lazarenko might have been reportedly involved in the killing of his father.
He claims that the assassins were paid from bank accounts controlled by Timoshenko and Lazarenko.
Ruslan Shcherban said he is not pursuing any political goals and has not received any special assignments or offers from the ruling Party of Regions.
Prosecutor General Pshonka said earlier that the investigation of the case had been completed and that Timoshenko and former Prime Minister Pavel Lazarenko had ordered the murder. If Timoshenko’s guilt is proved, she will face life imprisonment.
Investigators in the Prosecutor General’s Office believe that Shcherban was killed in the war for the gas market in the Donetsk region.
At the same time, former head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) Ifor Smeshko told TBi television that law enforcement agencies had been aware of Timoshenko’s role in financing the assassination of Shcherban since 2001.
“The Lugansk court ruling on the Kushnir gang contains a reference, even in the verdict, to the testimony given in April 2001 by Kirichenko who said during an interrogation in the presence of American law enforcers that Yulia Vladimirovna Timoshenko had been related to financing the assassination of MP Shcherban,” he said.
“I would not like to be either Yulia Vladimirovna’s lawyer or prosecutor. And yet she has never answered the question put to it by the Ukrainian law enforcement system since the late 1990s and early 2000s,” Smeshko said.
According to the investigators, in the first half of 1996, Lazarenko’s adviser Pyotr Kirichenko, “being unaware of Timoshenko’s and Lazarenko’s real intentions”, arranged for a meeting between Lazarenko and a crime baron from Dnepropetrovsk, Alexander Milchenko, aka Matros (or Sailor), at the Pushcha-Voditsa holiday hotel. They met several times at the beginning of the year and at one of those meetings Lazarenko introduced Matros to Timoshenko.