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Ukraine's Tymoshenko denies murder charges
 
 
 



KHARKIV (AFP) - Ukraine's jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko on Tuesday denied she was behind the killing of a powerful lawmaker in 1996, calling the murder charge against her "hysteria"."I can state clearly and unambiguously that I have nothing to do with the tragic murder of Yevgen Shcherban in 1996, and this will be proven in international courts and in the courts of other countries," Tymoshenko said in a statement read to journalists by her lawyer Sergiy Vlasenko."These loud accusations are (President Viktor) Yanukovych's agony and hysteria," Tymoshenko added, referring to the murder charge as the most recent of the "tragic mistakes" made by the Ukrainian leader, her bitter foe and former presidential rival.Ukrainian prosecutors on Friday accused Tymoshenko of organising the 1996 murder of Shcherban and warned that a guilty verdict could land the opposition leader behind bars for life.The case is the third against Tymoshenko. The 2004 Orange Revolution leader is currently serving a seven-year prison term after a controversial conviction in 2011 for abuse of power, but has been staying at a hospital in the eastern city of Kharkiv for back pain treatment.The medical condition has delayed the start of her second trial, on embezzlement and tax evasion charges, for months, with the latest opening date set for February 12.The murder case against Tymoshenko and former prime minister Pavlo Lazarenko -- a close ally who was convicted and jailed for money laundering in the United States in 2006 -- states that the two paid $2.8 million (2.1 million euros) to a contract killer to eliminate Shcherban.The influential politician and affluent businessman was gunned down in a gangland-style shooting at an airport in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk in November 1996.His murder became one of the most notorious in a turbulent decade for the former Soviet republic in which huge state enterprises were distributed for pennies on the dollar to rival business groups.Tymoshenko's prosecution and incarceration has caused a major deterioration in ties with the West, where Yanukovych has faced accusations of abusing the courts to eliminate his chief political foe.

 
 
on epaper page 10
 
 
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