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EU official: Lutsenko, Ivaschenko groundlessly held in custody

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Nov. 26, 2011, 1:53 p.m. | Ukraine — by Interfax-Ukraine

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Kyiv, November 26 (Interfax-Ukraine) – Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg said that the detention of former Ukrainian Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko and former Acting Defense Minister Valeriy Ivaschenko pending a court ruling, as well as the arrest of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko pending her sentence, is groundless. He said at a press conference in Kyiv on Saturday that there was a problem in Ukraine with the excessive use of the practice of pretrial detention.

“This problem, of course, is very important for the international community when it comes to such criminal cases as cases against Tymoshenko, Lutsenko and Ivaschenko,” he said.

“Based on my analysis, in any one of these cases that I mentioned there are no such exceptional circumstances that would justify their detention pending a court ruling,” he added.

Hammarberg added that Ukraine should adhere to the principles of presumption of innocence -- a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, he said that there were exceptional circumstances, on the basis of which there are grounds for arrest. In particular, they include a risk that a person will flee, destroy evidence, or exert pressure on witnesses, he added.

“If there are no such risks, then there are no grounds to hold a person in custody,” he said.
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