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Ukrainian Judge Delays Tymoshenko Trial Until May 21

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko

A Ukrainian judge has ruled that jailed former prime minister and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko cannot be tried in absentia, and has delayed her tax evasion trial until May 21.

Judge Kostyantyn Sadovsky made the ruling on April 28 after the court heard that Tymoshenko could not attend the trial in Kharkiv because of health problems.

Tymoshenko, who launched a hunger strike one week ago and is suffering from back pain and other ailments, is already serving a seven-year sentence on charges of abuse of power committed when she was prime minister.

The current trial concerns separate accusations that she evaded millions of U.S. dollars in taxes in connection with a private energy company she headed in the 1990s.

Western governments say the case appears to be a politically motivated vendetta against Tymoshenko.

Based on reporting by AFP and Interfax