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You're reading: Why European governments think opposition trials are flawed

There has been good progress recently on negotiating the nuts and bolts of the Agreement, and hopes are rising that it might be possible soon to declare the negotiations complete. But as I said in a third blog, EU jargon and Ukraine: what it means, completing the negotiations and initialling them is not enough for the Association Agreement to enter into force. For that to happen, the Agreement has to be signed and ratified. EU member states have made clear that that is unlikely to happen unless opposition leaders detained on the basis of flawed trials are freed and able to participate in the political process.

The key word there is “flawed”. Many European governments, including that of the UK, have expressed concern that the present court actions against opposition leaders in Ukraine do not meet European standards, or appear politically motivated. Since there is a widespread principle of justice in Europe that people are “innocent until proved guilty”, the judgement that the court cases are flawed because they are based on politics, rather than on right or wrong, is important. It means that, in these cases, arguments that Mr X or Ms Y has been found guilty of crime Z carry no weight for European governments.

So why do those governments think that way?

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