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EU Cautions Ukraine Over Prosecution Of Ex-Prime Minister

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko entering the state prosecutor's office in Kyiv in late December.
A senior European Union official has warned Ukraine not to use criminal law for political ends, a seeming reference to the prosecution of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Tymoshenko has been charged with abuse of office during her time as premier from 2007-10.

She is due to appear before the state prosecutor again on January 13 to hear latest developments in the case against her.

"In the 21st century, democratic authority cannot be sustained without an independent judiciary and media. It is a question of moral leadership," EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele, speaking after talks with Yanukovych in Kyiv, said. "I would therefore like to recall the need to ensure that criminal law is not used for political ends and that the principles of a fair, impartial, and independent legal process are fully respected."

Ukraine and the EU are negotiating an association agreement, including a free-trade zone.

Critics accuse pro-Moscow Yanukovych of suppressing the rights of the free press and human rights groups, and of using allies in the judiciary to build a case against Tymoshenko.

Apart from the charges against Tymoshenko herself, several members of her former cabinet have been detained.

compiled from Reuters reports