Tuesday, April 24, 2012
4/24/2012 06:29:00 AM live news No comments
Last Friday Tymoshenko, who suffers from a severe spinal condition and needs hospital treatment, was taken to a clinic in the eastern city of Kharkiv where her prison is located, but was moved back to jail a day later after refusing treatment.
Tymoshenko's lawyer Serhiy Vlasenko said prison officials kicked Tymoshenko in the stomach while taking her to the hospital by force. Tymoshenko refused to be treated at the Kharkiv clinic because she doesn't trust government-appointed doctors.
When prison officials entered her jail cell, Tymoshenko "naturally got scared, began resisting, after which she received a punch in the stomach and passed out," Vlasenko said, adding that she still has a large bruise on her stomach after the incident.
Vlasenko said Tymoshenko has been refusing food since Friday night.
Prosecutors confirmed that Tymoshenko had been taken to the hospital against her will, but claimed that prison officials had acted within the law and insisted there was no evidence to support the allegations of beating.
"The person got packed, dressed and then lied down on the bed and said 'I will not go anywhere'," Kharkiv regional prosecutor Henadiy Tyurin told reporters in remarks confirmed by his office. "According to the law ... the prison service has the right to use physical measures: she was picked up, carried to the car and taken to the hospital."
Prison officials declined immediate comment.
Tymoshenko, 51, the country's top opposition leader is serving a seven-year prison term on charges of abusing her powers during gas negotiations with Russia. The West has strongly condemned the verdict as politically motivated and threatened to freeze cooperation with Ukraine.
Tymoshenko denies the charges and argues they, and others, are part of a campaign by her longtime foe President Viktor Yanukovych to bar her from politics. Yanukovych narrowly defeated her in the 2010 presidential race.
Yanukovych denies the allegations and says his government is merely fighting corruption.