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France regrets Lutsenko verdict, concerned about Ukrainian justice

PARIS, Aug. 21 — France regrets the verdict handed down in the case of former Ukrainian Interior Minister Yuri Lustenko and voiced concern about the unfairness of Ukrainian justice.

“We deplore the new sentence handed down to Mr. Lutsenko, which only serves to confirm the concerns already expressed by France and its European partners with respect to the blatantly unfair and politically motivated trials targeting Yulia Timoshenko as well as several former Ukrainian leaders who joined the opposition,” French Foreign Ministry Deputy Spokesperson Vincent Floreani said Tuesday.

“We again urge Ukraine to put an end to the arbitrary administration of the justice system and to comply with the principles of the rule of law and its international obligations. Further rapprochement with the European Union, and notably the signing of the EU-Ukraine association agreement, can only be possible on this basis,” he said.

“This is the message we’re sending to Ukraine, together with our European partners, notably in light of the parliamentary elections due to take place in the country this fall,” the deputy spokesperson said.

France again urged the Ukrainian government to ensure full respect for the law, justice, human rights and its international commitments, notably those made to the European Council, as well as the commitments that it reaffirmed at the EU-Ukraine Summit in December 2011.

Ukrainian opposition leader Yuri Lutsenko was sentenced to 2 years in prison without parole, in addition to the 4-year term of imprisonment already imposed on him in April.

In June, the European Court of Human Rights recognised the political nature of the persecution against him.

Lutsenko was detained on Dec 26, 2010 by the Security Service near his home.

On Dec 27, 2010, the Pechersky Court ordered him into custody.

The trial has been on since May 2011. The majority of 150 witnesses called to testify in court spoke in his support, and one-third did not show up.

Lutsenko said the verdict in his case was politically motivated and he would prove his case legally and politically.

In late January, the PACE passed a resolution recommending Ukraine to clear former government officials of the charges of abuse of office and power.

It warned that sanctions might be used against Ukraine if it fails to comply.

The parliamentarians said the articles of Ukraine's criminal code used to bring these cases were "overly broad and effectively allow for post-facto criminalization of normal political decision-making. This runs counter to the rule of law and is unacceptable."

The PACE Monitoring Committee will discuss the political developments in Ukraine during its next meeting in Paris on Sept 4. (PNA/Itar-Tass)

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