Ukraine’s civil and criminal high court delayed consideration of an appeal on former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s “gas case” on Tuesday until June 26.
Prosecutors earlier asked the court to postpone the hearing because Tymoshenko is currently undergoing medical treatment and cannot attend.
The court also said it needed more time to study “additional materials” pertaining to the case.
Tymoshenko’s defense team shouted “Shame!” as the judge announced the ruling.
Tymoshenko’s defense counsel, Serhiy Vlasenko, told a news briefing later on Tuesday that the court’s ruling was unlawful, as she had submitted a formal request in writing asking the court to consider the appeal without her being present.
Vlasenko said he was planning to turn to the European Court of Human Rights without waiting for the Ukrainian court to make its ruling.
“We consider today’s court decision final and are turning to the European Court of Human Rights,” he said.
In a controversial trial in October last year, Tymoshenko, a former prime minister and heroine of Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution, was jailed for seven years for pushing through a 2009 gas deal with Russia. Ukrainian authorities say the deal has caused multi-billion-dollar damage to the country’s economy and deny accusations by Western powers and Russia that the trial was politically motivated.
In December a Ukrainian appeals court upheld the sentence. Tymoshenko’s defense went to the civil and criminal high court, which has the final say and its rulings are not subject to appeal.
Last month, photos appeared showing Tymoshenko with bruises on her body, which she claims were inflicted by prison guards as they were forcibly transferring her to a hospital. Tymoshenko, who is suffering from severe back pain and has been diagnosed with a herniated spinal disc.
She faces a second trial on embezzlement charges. She is accused of attempting to embezzle money owed to Russia to pay for gas when she headed Ukrainian Energy Systems in the 1990s.
She denies wrongdoing and says she is being persecuted by President Viktor Yanukovych, who defeated her in the 2010 presidential election.