Canada's top diplomat on Wednesday decried what he described as Ukraine's "political persecution" of its former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Ottawa "has expressed to the Ukrainian government our serious concern about the apparent bias in the ongoing judicial proceedings against former prime minister Tymoshenko," Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Wednesday.
"Political persecution is completely unacceptable," he said. "The appearance of political bias in judicial proceedings undermines the rule of law."
Tymoshenko is on trial on charges of abusing her power for signing gas import agreements with Russia in 2009 that the authorities argue were overly advantageous for Moscow and are costing the budget billions of dollars.
She was arrested for contempt of court on August 5 after repeated confrontations with the judge and has since been held in a Kiev holding cell.
Tymoshenko has called the charges a vendetta pursued by President Viktor Yanukovych after he defeated her in presidential elections last year. But the president has said he has nothing to do with the case and cannot interfere in its course.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian prosecutors demanded a seven-year sentence for the glamorous former leader of the pro-Western Orange Revolution.
Canada and Ukraine started free trade talks in 2009, which hinge on Ukraine's democratic transformation and economic reforms.
Source: AFP American Edition