Yulia Tymoshenko loses appeal, court upholds verdict


A supporter of Ukraine's former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko holds a picture of the opposition leader during a rally held outside Kiev's courthouse on December 20, 2011. The European Union warned Ukraine on December 19 that the jailing of ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko had stalled the signing of an agreement taking Kiev a step closer to membership of the bloc. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY



Ukraine's former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has lost her appeal after a high court upheld the guilty verdict against her for abuse of office, straining Ukraine's relations with the West.

Supporters of Tymoshenko, who was a leader in the 2004 Orange Revolution, have claimed that the sentence is politically motivated.

"These findings have no relation to justice," said defense lawyer Serhiy Vlasenko to journalists after judge Olexander Yelfimov ruled that lower courts had delivered "correct decisions on the crimes of Tymoshenko," Reuters reported. 

"This is a decision of Yanukovich to keep Tymoshenko in prison," Vlasenko said, AFP reported.

Tymoshenko was jailed for seven years last October, after lower courts found her guilty for exceeding her powers of office in a gas deal she signed with Russia.

Russian President Vladamir Putin, who signed the deal with Tymoshenko, has said that that there was nothing illegal about her actions, the Associated Press reported.

However Tymoshenko is optimistic:

"This sentence, passed by the president, will change nothing in my life or in my struggle. I will fight for Ukraine, her freedom and independence," Tymoshenko said prior to the court session during the trial last October, AP reported.

According Reuters, she and her lawyers will file an appeal to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights.