Editor's Note:The following is a statement in response to a judge's sentence of Ukraine's former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko to four years in prison. The statement was issued by the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Jean-Claude Mignon, on Feb. 28.
Strasbourg - The President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Jean-Claude Mignon, today appealed to the Ukrainian authorities to free former Ukrainian Minister of the Interior Yuriy Lutsenko, who was yesterday sentenced by a court in Kyiv to four years' imprisonment for exceeding his official powers and for abuse of office.
"The former Minister of the Interior was not given a fair trial, and the charges of which he was found guilty are absolutely no justification for a prison sentence. The fact that former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is still in detention and that Yuriy Lutsenko has been convicted both strengthen the feeling that the charges against both these opponents of the government are of a political nature," he said.
"It is unacceptable for former members of the government of a Council of Europe member state to be prosecuted for political reasons. This practice is contrary to the rule of law and takes Ukraine further away the principles of our organisation as well as the European integration to which this country aspires.
As our Assembly requested last month in Resolution 1862, the charges against these former members of the government must be dropped. It is a matter of urgency for the Ukrainian authorities to release Mr Lutsenko, who, like Mrs Tymoshenko, is a victim of a policy pursued by the present government in an effort to call into question decisions taken by a previous government," concluded Mr Mignon.
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