KHARKOV, November 6 (Itar-Tass) - A district court in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkov will convene on December 6 to examine the case of former Prime Minister and opposition Batkivshchina party leader Yulia Timoshenko, charged with financial abuses in the Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine.
The previous hearing was scheduled for October 25, but it did not take place due to the absence of the defendant.
Preliminary hearings were held on April 19, 2012. Subsequent hearings were repeatedly postponed due to Timoshenko’s refusal to attend them.
Timoshenko, who has been sentenced to seven years in prison for abuse of office when signing gas contracts with Russia, had refused to be taken to court again.
She said earlier that the Penitentiary Service did not take her to court intentionally. However, the Service said any action to take her to court by force would be “out of the question.”
Timoshenko has been refusing to attend court hearings in this case for more than a year.
The Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU) that was headed by Timoshenko before she became prime minister drew suspicion of the tax authorities back in 1996.
The tax authorities had noticed a discrepancy between the taxes paid by the company and its big turnover.
“In 1997, a criminal case was opened. The investigation continued despite the fact that the company's head, Yulia Timoshenko, had immunity as an MP. Now the court should examine this case,” Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov said.
The Prosecutor General’s Office has also filed a lawsuit demanding compensation from Timoshenko for damages in the amount of 19.5 million hryvnia in this case.
Deputy Prosecutor General Yevgeny Blazhivsky said the damage was caused by embezzlement of budget funds and tax evasion.
Ukrainian Security Service chief Igor Kalinin said the investigators had collected enough evidence to prove Timoshenko’s culpable actions committed when she headed the United Energy Systems of Ukraine.
On October 20, 2011, the Prosecutor General’s Office cancelled the decision to close the criminal case against Timoshenko in which she was charged with embezzlement of more than 25 million hryvnia (more than 10 million U.S. dollars at the exchange rate of 1995-1997, when Timoshenko headed the Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine), tax evasion in the amount of more than 20 million hryvnia by using a criminal financial scheme for settlements with the Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine for natural gas and by concealing incomes from the operations of her offshore company Somolli Enterprise Limited from taxation.
Timoshenko was arrested on August 5, 2011 in the so-called “gas case” for “systematically obstructing the establishment of truth, breaking order during the court hearings, ignoring the judge’s instructions, delaying the process and showing disrespect for the court.”
On April 30, 2013, the European Court of Human Rights said the verdict against Timoshenko was politically motivated and her rights had been violated.
On August 1, 2013, Timoshenko’s lawyers filed an appeal to the Supreme Court through the Higher Specialised Court, requesting that the verdict in the so-called “gas case” be reviewed and annulled.
However the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice insists that the ECHR judgment in the Timoshenko vs. Ukraine case has been complied with in full and entails no additional obligations for Ukraine.
On October 11, 2011, Timoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison for having acted in excess of her powers which had resulted in damage to national interests.
Timoshenko was also barred from holding public positions for three years and has to pay a penalty of 189 million U.S. dollars in damages to Naftogaz Ukrainy.
She may also be incriminated in the MP Yevgeny Shcherban assassination case in which she is alleged to be the mastermind of the crime and ex-Prime Minister Pvel Lazarenko its perpetrator.
On January 18, 2013, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office provided Timoshenko with notice informing her that she was suspected of involvement in the killing of MP Shcherban.
Prosecutor General Pshonka said Timoshenko might be sentenced to life imprisonment in this case.
“Pre-trial investigation materials showing that Timoshenko made out a contract for that murder together with Lazarenko have been gathered,” Pshonka said.
According to Pshonka, Timoshenko and Lazarenko paid 2.8 million U.S. dollars for Shcherban’s assassination.
In late December 2011, Timoshenko was transferred from the investigation prison to a correctional facility in the eastern Kharkov region. On May 9 of 2912, she was transferred to Kharkov’s Railway Hospital for medical treatment.