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Lutsenko found guilty of embezzlement

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Feb. 28, 2012, 7:32 a.m. | Politics — by Associated Press

Supporters of Yuri Lutsenko, former Ukrainian Interior Ministry and jailed former PM Yulia Tymoshenko's top ally, rally outside the Pecherskiy District Court in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 27, 2012.
© Kostyantyn Chernichkin

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A Ukrainian court has imposed a four-year sentence for embezzlement and abuse of office on a former interior minister in the government of imprisoned ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko. The verdict and sentence imposed on Yuriy Lutsenko on Monday means he will stay in jail for two years and 10 months, allowing for time already served since his December 2010 arrest.

The United States and the European Union have condemned Lutsenko's trial and the imprisonment of Tymoshenko as politically motivated. Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year sentence on charges of abuse of office.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Monday said the cases raise "serious concerns about the government of Ukraine's commitment to democracy and the rule of law."

President Viktor Yanukovych, Tymoshenko's arch-foe, has justified the trials as fighting corruption.

Lutsenko was convicted of giving illegal bonuses and perks to his driver at the expense of the state.

In addition to incarceration, he was also ordered to pay the equivalent of $116,000 to compensate for misused funds, including some spent for celebration of the police force's professional day.

Lutsenko maintained his innocence after the verdict.

"The court has read a decision made by politicians. I will prove my case legally and politically," he said after the trial concluded.
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