If you were offered access to the evidence in a case you decry publicly as flawed, would you take it?
In the numerous and robust condemnations over the case of Yulia Tymoshenko, every EU and sovereign statement has been to decry the due process of her trial leading to her conviction for misuse of office over the signing of the economically calamitous 2009 gas deal with Russia.
Fair enough and quite right.
None however, not a single politician or diplomat from the EU or the composite sovereign nations have stated she is actually innocent – a fact that has not been lost on the Ukrainian public I can assure you.
Much has been reported by the MSM from the 15th annual EU/Ukraine summit in Brussels on 15/16 May very much following the EU robust line over due process and political persecution. What is noticeable by its absence however was the invitation of Prime Minister Azarov to any European lawyers to attend Tymoshenko’s next appeal hearing at the highest court in Ukraine.
“The process of Cassation on Tymoshenko’s cause is now beginning. We are ready to invite the representatives of legal services of the European countries to this process that they have got acquainted with the materials, studied this process and heard the arguments.”
Well blimey! You would think that this is an invitation that any legal professional from within the EU with an interest in Ukraine could not refuse, particularly as they have almost 5 weeks to get up to speed if they start right away. You would also think it would actually feature predominantly in the MSM and yet it gets hardly a mention despite the implications for EU/Ukrainian relations.
After all, whilst the EU rightly complains about the standard of due process, there is also a need to examine the actual guilty verdict, in and of itself, based on the evidence, in order to win over the Ukrainian public opinion that the conviction itself is erroneous. The process maybe flawed but the result may have been right – or wrong. To employ a rather poor analogy, is the journey more important than the destination arrived at if that destination is the right one?
The issue the EU has, is that it is failing miserably at conveying convincingly to the general Ukrainian public, (and not a room full of politicians, lawyers and academics), that the manner of her trial is more important than the actual verdict.
If the EU takes up this offer in its entirety, it would then be in a position having gotten acquainted with the materials, studied the process and heard the arguments, to announce loudly to the world, not only was the due process faulty but that the evidence suggests she is innocent as well. (Or maybe a more politically correct insufficient evidence to be certain of her guilt.)
A chance to bury the current authorities in a tsunami of political persecution propaganda legitimised by the EU’s own lawyers having had access to the materials and arguments and coming to an innocent verdict, and thus standing a far better chance of winning over Ukrainian public opinion that she has been wronged for political reasons alone.
The question is now whether the EU or some lawyers within the EU of senior stature (preferably with an EU mandate to examine the evidence) will take up this offer? The answer is yes.
But does the EU have the appetite to actually examine the evidence and be forced to conclude the guilt or innocence of Ms Tymoshenko, thus supporting or deriding the Ukrainian court decision (rather than just the process)? Will the EU lawyer simply study the process and not the evidence?
Does the EU dare to look at the evidence of prosecution and defence alike?
Will it shrink from this opportunity, despite the fact it could add tremendous ammunition to their projected free Yulia campaign within Ukraine itself? Is the EU worried that the evidence will point to her guilt and undermine their almost traction-less argument over the due process issue being more important than her innocence or guilt with hoy polloy of Ukrainian society?
Would it be so terribly bad if the evidence is assessed by the EU as is being offered, and should it comprehensively prove her guilt, for the EU to state that, whilst continuing to deride the process? It is after all a faulty process that every Ukrainian can be subjected too and thus that point is hardly diminished – regardless of whether the EU concludes she is guilty or innocent.
Does the European Commission have the backbone to actually come to a public conclusion over her guilt or innocence and convey that to the Ukrainian public? Probably not, and if not, then do not be surprised if Ukrainian public opinion remains with the undercurrent that she’s probably guilty whether the due process met EU norms or not!
This will be fascinating to watch both literally and by way of what the EU hopes to achieve and ultimately does or doesn’t achieve in the court of Ukrainian public opinion.