KHARKIV, Ukraine (Reuters) - A Ukrainian court on Tuesday adjourned the tax evasion and embezzlement trial of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko until September 11 after she refused to appear citing poor health.
The 51-year-old opposition leader is serving a seven-year sentence on a separate charge of abuse of office linked to a gas deal she brokered with Russia in 2009 while prime minister.
Her trial in Kharkiv for tax evasion and embezzlement going back to alleged offences in the 1990s has been put off several times since she has been unable to attend because of back trouble for which she is receiving hospital treatment.
The court on Tuesday formally asked her to agree to a video link from her hospital bed to enable the trial to take place. She has refused such a suggestion in the past.
Tymoshenko, the fiercest political foe of President Viktor Yanukovich, has dismissed all charges against her as politically motivated and is challenging her initial conviction both locally and in the European Court of Human Rights.
The European Union has supported Tymoshenko, calling her case an example of selective justice and shelving key agreements on free trade and political association with Ukraine.
Tymoshenko led the 2004 Orange Revolution protests that derailed Yanukovich’s first bid for presidency, and served twice as prime minister.
Yanukovich, who beat her in a close run-off to become president in February 2010, has refused to intervene in Tymoshenko’s prosecution despite being urged to do so by Brussels.
A “guilty” verdict in the tax evasion case would keep Tymoshenko behind bars even if the European Court of Human Rights eventually overturns her first conviction.
Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Pravin Char