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Ukraine rights official calls for Tymoshenko assault probe

Ukraine rights official calls for Tymoshenko assault probe
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Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman has demanded an investigation into allegations that former prime minister Yuila Tymoshenko was beaten in jail.

A leading parliamentarian visited Tymoshenko and said she had been attacked and that it was torture.

On Wednesday, Nina Karpachyova, parliament’s human rights representative, said that during a visit to the prison in the city of Kharkiv, a member of her staff had confirmed that Tymoshenko was bruised.

“The Ombudsman states that escorting Yulia Tymoshenko (to hospital) in such a way amounts to cruel treatment of an inmate and can be regarded as torture,” she said in a statement.

But Inna Bohoslovska, a rival MP to the former premier, accused the 51-year-old of drawing attention to herself.

“The PR opportunities for her in Ukraine have disappeared. She disappeared from the media and she needed to get back on their radar. Also, Ukraine is on the agenda at the Council of Europe tomorrow,” she told euronews.

Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison last October on charges of abusing her power as prime minister in brokering a 2009 gas deal with Russia.

She says her conviction has been politically orchestrated by her bitter rival and Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich.

The Ukrainian government says the deal ran against national interests and has saddled Ukraine with an exorbitant price for vital energy supplies.

Tymoshenko is now facing a new trail on graft charges and could be handed an additional 12 years in jail. She denies any wrongdoing in both cases.

The European Union has warned Ukraine that its members will not ratify key bilateral agreements on political association and free trade while Tymoshenko remains in prison.

Tymoshenko was one of the leaders of the 2004 Orange Revolution which derailed Yanukovich’s first bid for the presidency.

She went on to serve twice as prime minister and lost the 2010 presidential vote to him in a close race.