KIEV, July 28 (RAPSI) – The trial in absentia of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and several top ex-officials began in Kiev, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin told journalists on Tuesday.

The other defendants are Sergiy Arbuzov, former head of the National Bank of Ukraine, Oleksandr Klymenko, former Minister of Revenue and Duties, Raisa Bogatyrova, former Minister of Healthcare, and her deputy Oleksandr Staschenko, as well as Andriy Ignatov, former Deputy Minister of Revenue and Duties. 

The defense team of Viktor Yanukovych said the decision of the Pechersky District Court in Kiev to try the former Ukrainian president in absentia contradicts the law, which only allows for in absentia trials of persons on the international wanted list.

The attorneys say that Interpol removed a red notice on Yanukovych from its site and closed access to his file for all member states of the international police organization. 

“This means that Yanukovych is not wanted internationally and hence cannot be tried in absentia,” said a statement issued by the law firm Aver Lex, which represents Yanukovych’s interests in Ukraine.

Viktor Yanukovych was elected president of Ukraine on February 25, 2010, for a five-year term. Following a coup on February 22, 2014, Yanukovych was forced to leave the country. The Ukrainian parliament impeached him, amended the Constitution and scheduled early presidential elections for May, when Petro Poroshenko was elected president. The new Kiev authorities launched criminal proceedings against several former officials.