BRUSSELS – Ukraine's Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said Wednesday that the European Union can send experts to assess both the medical state of his jailed predecessor Yulia Tymoshenko and the legal process that led to her conviction and seven-year sentence.
Azarov said at the European Parliament that an EU medical team can go to Ukraine to examine Tymoshenko, who is hospitalized with a back condition and who has claimed she was beaten.
EU Parliament President Martin Schulz said that after "intense and honest" discussions, Azarov's commitments on the medical and legal visits was "a real step forward."
Tymoshenko was convicted of abusing her powers in signing a gas deal with Russia, and authorities have postponed her appeal. The EU has said the trial was politically motivated.
A German doctor has been allowed to supervise her treatment, but Azarov said that on top of that "a group of medical experts of the European partners will provide medical treatment of Mrs. Tymoshenko."
Schulz also said he would be appointing a legal expert to assess the case against Tymoshenko following an agreement with Azarov.
He said the observer will have "the full right of access to all the necessary documents and information he needs to ensure that the process in Ukraine is 100 percent compatible with international standards."
"This is an agreement between Mr. Azarov and me. This is a real step forward in building mutual trust," Schulz told reporters.
Ukraine's High Specialized Court for Civil and Criminal Cases set a new date for the appeal of June 26, which falls near the end of the European soccer championship taking place in Ukraine and Austria.
Azarov agreed and said that "we are interested to ensure that our European counterparts may witness that the process of the second case of Tymoshenko is absolutely open, transparent and fair."
Azarov said on Tuesday it was already clear she falsified documents, and claimed it led Ukraine to pay $8 billion a year extra for a gas contract with Russia. Last year, the prosecutor's office said Tymoshenko's actions cost the state 3.5 billion hryvna ($440 million).
Tymoshenko has accused President Viktor Yanukovych, the longtime rival who narrowly defeated her in the 2010 presidential election, of jailing her to prevent her from posing a challenge in October parliamentary elections.