A preliminary hearing of a criminal case against former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko has begun at the Pechersky district court of Kyiv on Monday, UKRINFORM reported. 

"I have every reason to believe in bias of the Pechersky and the Appeals courts of Kyiv. Therefore, I declare that I choose and demand the consideration of my case by jury trial," Lutsenko stressed.

The existence of trial by jury is envisaged by the Ukrainian Constitution and the Law "On Judiciary of Ukraine", but those courts have not yet been created.

The Prosecutor General's Office opened a criminal case against Lutsenko regarding the embezzlement of state property worth UAH 360,000, as well as the abuse of power and the use of forged documents. The former minister was arrested on December 26, 2010.

On April 22, Lutsenko, who was in the Lukyanivka remand prison of Kyiv, went on an indefinite hunger strike after the Kyiv Court of Appeals on April 21 extended Lutsenko's arrest until May 26.

Opposition factions OU-PSD and BYuT-Batkivshchyna, in protest against the prosecution of former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, walked out of the parliament's session hall last week.

Before that, OU-PSD faction chairman Mykola Martynenko said that the faction demands immediate release from custody of Lutsenko, who has been in jail since late December and now is in a critical condition.

The MP stressed that over 100 signatures of MPs have already been collected under the appeal for taking Lutsenko on bail. Martynenko confirmed that MPs are ready to make a cash deposit for Yuriy Lutsenko.

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