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Kyiv Court To Hold Yanukovych Treason Trial In Absentia


A panel of three judges listens to Yanukovych’s lawers in Kyiv on June 26.

KYIV -- A court in Kyiv has decided to hold the treason trial of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in absentia.

Presiding Judge Vladyslav Devyatko made the announcement on June 29 after Yanukovych, who is in Russia, repeatedly failed to show up in the courtroom.

His lawyer, Vitaly Serdyuk, said Yanukovych could not attend the hearings due to threats to his life.

The next hearing is to take place on July 6.

During the preliminary hearings, Yanukovych's defense insisted that the court must formally ask Russia for assistance to set up a video link for his client.

The court has rejected the request, saying Yanukovych can take part via any video link available on the Internet -- meaning that a formal request is not needed.

Dozens of people were killed when his government attempted to clamp down on the Euromaidan protests.

Prosecutors are seeking life imprisonment for Yanukovych, who is accused of treason, violating Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and abetting Russian aggression.

After he fled, Russia seized Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and fomented separatism in eastern Ukraine, where a war between the government and Russia-backed separatists has killed more than 10,000 people.