Former Ukraine leader Tymoshenko trial delayed again

KHARKIV, Ukraine Tue Dec 18, 2012 5:11am EST

A portait of jailed former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko is displayed in front of her daughter Yevgenia during a news conference at the Geneva Press Club in Geneva October 24, 2012. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

A portait of jailed former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko is displayed in front of her daughter Yevgenia during a news conference at the Geneva Press Club in Geneva October 24, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Denis Balibouse

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KHARKIV, Ukraine (Reuters) - Jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko's trial for tax evasion was adjourned again on Tuesday until January 18 as the former prime minister, hospitalized for back trouble, could not attend.

Tymoshenko, the main opponent of President Viktor Yanukovich, was sentenced to seven years in prison in October 2011 on abuse-of-office charges. Her second trial, for alleged tax evasion and embezzlement, was originally meant to commence in April but has been repeatedly postponed.

The 52-year-old politician denies any wrongdoing and says she is being persecuted by Yanukovich in revenge for her role in the 2004 "Orange Revolution" protests which derailed his first bid for presidency.

Tymoshenko has been in a state hospital since May, receiving treatment for back pains.

On Tuesday, Judge Kostyantyn Sadovsky postponed the trial again after Tymoshenko refused to attend.

"The trial is adjourned until January 18," Sadovsky said.

The abuse-of-office charge for which Tymoshenko was jailed stems from a gas deal she brokered with Russia in 2009 as prime minister. The new tax evasion and embezzlement charges date back to the 1990s when she ran a major gas trading company.

The European Union has supported Tymoshenko, calling her case an example of selective justice, and shelved agreements on free trade and political association with Ukraine over the issue.

(Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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