Ukraine's jailed ex-PM faces indefinite arrest

By the Associated Press | December 9, 2011 | 7:26 AM EST

A supporter of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko holds a poster outside a prison in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011. Politicians in Europe and the United States have criticized a seven-year jail sentence given to Tymoshenko, the defeated rival in Yanukovych's election victory. She denies charges relating to her handling of a gas import contract with Russia. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — A Ukrainian court has ordered the indefinite arrest of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, even if her current seven-year sentence is overturned, her office said Friday.

Kiev's Shevchenkivsky Court ordered Tymoshenko arrested late Thursday as part of a probe into the activity of an energy company she headed 15 years ago.

The decision shows that Ukrainian authorities remain unbowed by strong Western pressure to release the country's top opposition leader. The U.S. and the EU have condemned her 7-year sentence on abuse of office charges as politically motivated and have demanded her release.

Tymoshenko's lawyer Serhiy Vlasenko charged that Tymoshenko's arrest had no term and was indefinite, in violation of the law.

"Tymoshenko has been arrested forever," Vlasenko said, according to a statement on Tymoshenko's Web site. "This is yet another brutal and flagrant violation of the current legislation."

The Shevchenkivsky Court declined to comment Friday.

The court ruled during a session in Tymoshenko's jail cell where she's bedridden due to a back problem. She says the authorities are denying her proper treatment.

Tymoshenko is appealing her seven-year sentence and a key court hearing is expected Monday. She was found guilty in October of overstepping her authorities while negotiating a natural gas import contract with Russia in 2009. Tymoshenko maintains her innocence and charges that President Viktor Yanukovych has ordered her imprisonment to bar her from elections.