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No direct evidence of Ukrainian former Prime Minister YuliaTimoshenko's involvement in lawmaker's murder – witness

April 16, 2013, 14:27 UTC+3

Shcherban was gunned down at the Donetsk airport on November 3, 1996

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KIEV, April 16 (Itar-Tass) – A witness in a Ukrainian lawmaker murder case said he had no direct evidence of former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko's involvement. Vitaly Gaiduk said so at Kiev's Pechora district court on Tuesday, as he was being questioned by Timoshenko’s lawyers.

"I have no direct proof of Timoshenko's involvement or non-involvement in Shcherban's murder," Gaiduk said, adding that Shcherban had never told him he had been threatened by former premiers Pavel Lazarenko and Yulia Timoshenko, because he had "other level of relations" with the victim.

Timoshenko was not present at the Tuesday hearing. Earlier, she refused to be convoyed from the Kharkov-based Ukrzheldorogi hospital to Kiev.

Gaiduk held senior positions at the Donestk regional council and the Donetsk regional administration in 1994–1997.

On January 18, prosecutors informed Timoshenko that she was a suspect in the Shcherban murder case. Investigators said the conflict over the division of the natural gas market in the Donetsk region was the prime motive behind the murder. Former prime minister Pavel Lazarenko is another suspect in the case. Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka said then Timoshenko was facing life imprisonment within the case.

Shcherban was gunned down at the Donetsk airport on November 3, 1996. The criminals fled the scene in a car. Shcherban, his wife, a mechanic and flight engineer died of gunshot wounds.

The total sum paid for the murder of Yevgeny Shcherban reached 2.82 million dollars, Ukrainian investigators said.

Timoshenko is serving a 7-year sentence at the Kachanovskaya penitentiary in the town of Kharkov, for exceeding her authority when signing the gas agreement with Russia in 2009. She has been in a Kharkov hospital in the recent months.

Lazarenko spent more than a decade in U.S. prison for financial fraud. He was set free on November 1, 2012. He had been accused of money laundering. Lazarenko asked San Francisco immigration authorities to grant him a temporary resident visa.

Last week, Deputy Prosecutor General Lilia Frolova said former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma had been questioned in the case.

Kuchma said there were no reasons to open criminal proceedings against Timoshenko.

"She's accused of all sins today, including Shcherban's murder. You can say all you want but there are no reasons to open a criminal case against Timoshenko," the former president said.


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