STRASBOURG, June 28 (RAPSI) - Politicians should be protected from criminal prosecution based on their political decisions, said rapporteur of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Mr Pieter Omtzigt (Netherlands).

"Political decisions shall be subject to political responsibility, the ultimate judges being the voters," he said in the Keeping Political and Criminal Responsibility Separate report obtained by RIA Novosti.

Mr Omtzigt proposed "the legislative bodies of those (Council of Europe) member States whose criminal law still includes broad abuse-of-office provisions to consider abolishing or redrafting such provisions, with a view to limiting their scope in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission."

He cited the example of the criminal cases brought in Ukraine against former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko as unjustified prosecution of politicians.

Tymoshenko is currently serving a seven-year sentence in a penal colony in Kharkov for abuse of power when she signed a gas deal with Russia in 2009. Since May 2012, she has been undergoing treatment at a hospital in Kharkov. 

In August 2012, the Pechersky District Court in Kiev sentenced Lutsenko to two years of custodial restraint for dereliction of duty during the investigation of the alleged poisoning of presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko in 2004.

On April 3, 2013, the High Specialized Court upheld the first four-year sentence handed down to Lutsenko on charges of abuse of office, according to which he was to remain in prison until late 2014. However, President Yanukovych pardoned the former minister on April 7 and he was released the same day.

Mr Omtzigt reiterated the Assembly's opinion that Ukraine's "criminal justice system is abused for the persecution of political opponents. It considers that in both these cases the principles on the separation of political and criminal responsibility have been violated."

He also repeated the Assembly's call to the Ukrainian authorities "to take specific measures to ensure the effective independence of the judiciary, in particular by implementing the recommendations of the Venice Commission in this respect and by speedily and comprehensively executing the relevant judgments of the European Court of Human Rights."