MOSCOW, December 28 (RAPSI) – A Ukrainian court has suspended decision-making on a request to launch investigation into former president of the country Viktor Yanukovych suspected of treason, Ukrinform reported Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yury Lutsenko read charges against Yanukovych in a court through videoconference link. Later, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office filed a motion to initiate a trial of former president in absentia.
Lutsenko said that he expects the trial of Yanukovych to begin in February 2017. He added that if Yanukovych found guilty his property would be confiscated.
Postponement of proceedings is related to an appeal filed by former president’s defense with a court of appeals against holding this trial in the Pechersky District Court. According to Yanukovych’s lawyer Vitaly Serdyuk, trial should be held in another court because the Pechersky District Court is being pressured by Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office. He added that a court of appeals may rule on the complaint before the New Year.
On Wednesday, the Pechersky District Court dismissed a motion to recuse prosecutors in the case.
The Ukrainian prosecutors suspect Yanukovych of the same crimes allegedly committed by former “Berkut” officers: using fire arms against protesters in Kiev in late 2013 and early 2014. However, his case is subject to separate criminal proceedings.
The political crisis erupted in Ukraine in late November 2013 after the government announced that it had halted the country’s association with the European Union. Protests, called Euromaidan, swept across the country and led to violent clashes between armed activists and law enforcement officers in late 2013 and early 2014.
Fighting between radical anti-government protesters and police culminated in mass riots on February 18, 2014. On February 20, fire was opened on protestors. Over 100 people died those days on both sides, according to RIA Novosti.
Ukraine's authorities claim "Berkut" officers to be blamed for the shootings.
Russia says that militants of Right Sector, a far-right Ukrainian group banned in Russia, may have been behind the attack.
Ukraine went through a regime change on February 22, 2014, when President Viktor Yanukovych fled the country and Euromaidan activists rose to power in Kiev.
In early 2015, it was reported that the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office brought charges against Yanukovych in absentia and addressed Russia with a request to extradite the former president. Yanukovych is suspected of organizing a criminal group, abuse of power, embezzling state property and other offenses. The Russian Ministry of Justice then claimed he had not received any documents on extraditing Yanukovych to Kiev.
On June 6, Russia declined to extradite Yanukovych, according to the Prosecutor General’s Office’s spokesman Alexander Kurennoy.
A motion for provisional arrest and detention of Yanukovych filed by Ukraine was considered and dismissed in accordance with Article 3 (Political offences) of the 1957 European Convention on Extradition, he told journalists. Ukrainian authorities were informed about this decision, Kurennoy added.