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Ukraine ex-PM Tymoshenko tells court she's ill

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Ukraine ex-PM Tymoshenko tells court she's ill
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Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has told the court trying her for abuse of office that she is unwell and she wants to be examined by a doctor independent of the prison authorities holding her.

Tymoshenko, 50, appeared tired in court, seven weeks after her trial began and two weeks after she was ordered detained.

It was unclear what health complaint she was suffering from and she displayed no obvious symptoms beyond apparent fatigue. “This is more than just a cold,” her lawyer Mykola Siry told the court. “In her present condition, she cannot properly take part in the trial.”

After the judge noted that she had refused an examination in prison, Tymoshenko said: “I refuse to be treated by anyone sent by the government … I demand to be seen by a doctor I trust.”

The European Union also expressed concern about her health and has asked the Ukrainian authorities to allow EU diplomats to visit her in jail.

Her arrest has been condemned by the United States and the EU, both important backers of Ukraine’s government.

The EU is in talks with Kiev on strengthening bilateral ties that could eventually lead to trade benefits.

A spokesman for the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said the bloc wanted Kiev to “ensure timely and independent medical examination and professional care” for Tymoshenko. He said the EU’s top diplomat in Kiev had also requested a visit.

“We are looking for an immediate and positive consideration to this request by the Ukrainian authorities,” spokesman Michael Mann told a regular briefing in Brussels.

Tymoshenko, a prominent opponent of President Viktor Yanukovich, denies illegally forcing Ukraine’s state energy firm into an unfavourable gas supply deal with Russia when she was prime minister in 2009.

She was ordered to be detained on August 5 after she had repeatedly dismissed the case as a political vendetta by Yanukovich.

A leader of the 2004 “Orange Revolution” protests that doomed Yanukovich’s first bid for the presidency, Tymoshenko retains a substantial popular following. However, she narrowly lost a presidential election to Yanukovich in early 2010.