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Human rights organizations urging Ukraine's senior courts to overturn Lutsenko verdict

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Feb. 28, 2012, 6:14 p.m. | Politics — by Interfax-Ukraine

Human rights organizations from the countries that are members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have urged the high courts in Ukraine to overturn the verdict against Yuriy Lutsenko.

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A number of human rights organizations from the countries that are members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have urged the high courts in Ukraine to overturn the verdict against Ukraine's foreign interior minister Yuriy Lutsenko. "Yuriy Lutsenko has been convicted for taking political decisions which in law-based democracies cannot constitute criminal offences, and the sentence is effectively extra-judicial punishment, since it is based on the arbitrary extension of the norms of criminal legislation," reads the statement by human rights organizations from different countries posted on the Web site of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.

The human rights organizations expressed the concern "at this latest demonstration of selective justice by the Ukrainian authorities."

"The verdict against Yuriy Lutsenko is the latest step in the destruction of the rule of law in Ukraine. This verdict is a massive step backwards for Ukraine in its democratic development and clearly shows the stubborn wish by those in power to negate the achievements of the Ukrainian people over the last 20 years. Of especial concern is the fact that this destruction of European values is seen in a country which is to hold the presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2013," the statement reads.

The human rights organizations have called on the senior courts in Ukraine "to restore faith in the Ukrainian justice system by revoking this manifestly unjust verdict against Yuriy Lutsenko and to stop the trend towards arbitrary interpretation of the law."

"We call on the international community to give their political assessment of attempts by the Ukrainian authorities to destroy the independence of the judicial system and allow the use of the justice system for political persecution of leaders of the opposition and civic activists," the organizations said.

The statement was signed by 26 human rights organizations of Ukraine, the United States, Russia, the Czech Republic, Moldova, Norway, Armenia and other countries.
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