KIEV, April 30 (RIA Novosti) – The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday that the 2011 arrest of Ukraine’s ex-Prime Minister and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko was unlawful.
The court held that "Tymoshenko's pre-trial detention had been arbitrary" and that "the lawfulness of her detention had not been properly reviewed," according to a press release issued by the court. The court did not, however, uphold Tymoshenko’s complaints of alleged physical mistreatment and did not address the applicant’s main complaint that her arrest was politically motivated.
Tymoshenko, leader of the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) political party, remains in prison after being sentenced to seven years in October 2011 for exceeding her authority by signing a gas supply deal with Russia in 2009.
The EU and state leaders have expressed their concern over her conviction, which they see as retaliation to her political opposition to President Viktor Yanukovych, honorary head of the Party of Regions, which is mostly supported by inhabitants of Ukraine's Russian-speaking south and east.
In its judgment on Tuesday, the court notes the “overall similarity of its circumstances” to the case of Yuriy Lutsenko, a Tymoshenko ally who was sentenced in February 2012 to four years in prison for abuse of office.
Lutsenko was pardoned by Yanukovych in early April, after spending more than two years in prison. Ukraine’s presidential commission on pardons advised Yanukovych on Saturday not to pardon Tymoshenko, saying there were “no grounds" for the move.
The European court said in its ruling that “many national and international observers, including various non-governmental organizations, media outlets, those in diplomatic circles and individual public figures, considered these events to be part of the politically motivated prosecution of opposition leaders in Ukraine.”
A spokesman for Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry, Yevgeniy Perebiynis, said Ukraine’s representative in the European court will consider the decision and announce the country’s position later.
Tymoshenko’s daughter Yevhenia said she hoped the Ukrainian president would make a “humane decision” to free her mother in the near future.