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Kiev court decides to try ex-president accused of high treason in absentia

June 29, 13:34 UTC+3 KIEV

The judges left unnoticed a statement of the lawyer that Yanukovich could not appear in court due to a threat to his life

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Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich

Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich

© Valery Matytsin/TASS

KIEV, June 29. /TASS/. Kiev’s Obolonsky district court has decided to hold a trial of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, accused of high treason, in absentia, Presiding Judge Vladislav Devyatko said on Thursday.

"The court has decided on a special trial of Viktor Yanukovich," Devyatko said.

The judges left unnoticed a statement of lawyer Vitaly Serdyuk that Yanukovich could not appear in court due to a threat to his life and satisfied a motion of the prosecutors, who insisted on a trial in absentia.

The court refused to allow Yanukovich, who is currently in Russia, to take part in the trial via a video link-up. The lawyer argued that this violates the client’s right to defend himself. However, the decision is not subject to any appeal, the judge said.

The lawyer said he planned to file some 10 motions to court, including on questioning about 200 people. "Among them are representatives of the current Ukrainian authorities and politicians from a number of European countries," Serdyuk said.

According to experts, the Kiev authorities do not want the participation of the former president in the trial as "some damaging evidence during the 2014 coup d’etat may emerge."

The lawyer said he has information "on a plot to kill (Yanukovich) by the current authorities and other parties concerned if he crossed Ukraine’s border." He insisted that some witnesses should appear in court and share information about the threat to his client’s life.

During the hearing on the merits on June 26, which lasted for just 30 minutes, Judge Devyatko also adjourned the court session due to the "absence of the defendant." The lawyer then called to use the procedure of questioning the former president in line with the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In March, Ukraine's military prosecutors announced an indictment in the case of Yanukovich, who is suspected of high treason, colluding in order to alter Ukraine’s borders and waging an aggressive war.

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