Tymoshenko refuses to attend court testimony of witness in murder case
KIEV, March 4 - RAPSI. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is serving a seven-year sentence in Kharkiv for abuse of power, has refused to attend a court hearing in Kiev where a witness in the murder of MP and businessman Yevhen Shcherban was to give testimony, reported the press office of Ukraine's penitentiary service.
Tymoshenko said last week that she would be attending the hearing.
Seeking to prevent possible speculation about the alleged willingness of Tymoshenko and her supporters to attend the hearing in Kiev, the penitentiary service's press office has made an official statement according to which Tymoshenko rejected all proposals for her transportation to Kiev.
The press office also said that Tymoshenko "has categorically refused" to attend the hearing via a conference call from hospital.
Yevhen Shcherban, chief of the Aton financial corporation, was shot dead at Donetsk Airport in November 1996. His wife and an airport employee were also killed. Investigators suspect two former prime ministers, Yulia Tymoshenko and Pavlo Lazarenko, of organizing the murder.
Tymoshenko's attorney Sergei Sas told journalists that his client said she wanted to be present when the witnesses in the murder trial were questioned. Although her request was granted, she refused to appear in court on February 15.
In October 2011, Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison for abuse of power. The judge said she exceeded her powers when she signed a 2009 deal with Moscow under which Ukraine paid a high price for Russian gas.
In late March, a second case bringing further charges against Tymoshenko was filed with Kharkiv's Kievsky District Court. The case deals with suspected embezzlement when she headed United Energy Systems of Ukraine in the 1990s.
Lazarenko was released from Terminal Island Prison in California in late 2012. The former official spent over 10 years in prison for money laundering and extortion.
Lazarenko is still in the United States. Both he and Tymoshenko deny the accusations.