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Ukraine's Jailed Former Interior Minister Sentenced In Second Case

  • RFE/RL

Ukraine's former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko gets into a police truck after the court session in Kyiv on August 17.

Ukraine's former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko gets into a police truck after the court session in Kyiv on August 17.

A Kyiv court has sentenced Ukraine's former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko to two years in prison in a second case against him.

Lutsenko was found guilty on August 17 of ordering illegal surveillance of suspects while investigating the poisoning of former President Viktor Yushchenko during his presidential campaign in 2004.

In February, Lutsenko was found guilty of embezzlement and abuse of office and sentenced to four years in jail.

Judge Hanna Medushevska said that because Lutsenko had been already convicted to four years in jail for a separate felony, the harsher punishment supersedes the more lenient one and therefore Lutsenko's general prison term will remain four years.

Lutsenko said after his verdict was pronounced that there is no justice in Ukraine.

"I feel sorry for a country that has this kind of justice," he said. "This means that there is no possibility in our country for any person, ordinary [citizen] or not ordinary, to defend himself."

He added that the judiciary and the law enforcement system in Ukraine should be fully reformed.

"It is necessary, first of all, to shut down the police because it has no legal possibilities to work," Lutsenko said. "Secondly, to shut down the courts. And thirdly, to overthrow the authorities that have allowed a shameful situation of complete lawlessness in the country."

Meanwhile, Lutsenko's co-defendants in the latest case against him -- Volodymyr Tarasenko and Oleh Pavlenov, two former employees of the Interior Ministry -- were fined 8,500 hryvnyas ($1,050) each and deprived of the right to occupy managerial and administrative positions at enterprises and organizations.

In Lutsenko's first trial in February, the court sentenced him to four years in prison and ordered the confiscation of his property, saying Lutsenko had failed to observe proper procedures while serving as interior minister from 2007-10.

A Lutsenko supporter holds a placard that accuses the court of holding a staged production.

A Lutsenko supporter holds a placard that accuses the court of holding a staged production.

Lutsenko, an ally of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, pleaded not guilty in both cases and said the charges against him were politically motivated.

Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year sentence in a prison in the eastern city of Kharkiv after being convicted of abuse of office in late December. Her second trial on alleged tax evasion is scheduled to start on September 11.

The European Union and the United States have condemned the prosecution of Tymoshenko and Lutsenko as politically motivated acts by their opponents.

Viktor Klymenko, the chief prosecutor in Lutsenko's second trial, told journalists after the verdict had been pronounced that Lutsenko would be transferred to a labor camp in the near future.

Lutsenko's lawyer Oleksiy Bahanets said he plans to appeal the court's decision.


With reporting by UNIAN and Interfax

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