EU's Mogherini presses Ukraine on anti-corruption court


Kiev (AFP)

The European Union pressed Ukraine on Monday to create an independent anti-corruption court with the power to prosecute and convict officials guilty of state graft.

The bloc's diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini arrived in Kiev Sunday for a visit aimed at reaffirming continued EU support for Ukraine four years after its break with Russia.

But the warm message has been clouded by a fight between Ukraine and its foreign donors over who should have the ultimate power to appoint judges to the court.

The International Monetary Fund would like the process overseen by a public council of international experts.

The draft legislation approved in the first of two readings by parliament hands that role to a Ukrainian commission the IMF fears will be influenced by the ruling elite.

"We, and I believe the Ukrainian citizens... expect and want to see more considerable progress in the fight against corruption," Mogherini told a joint press conference with Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman.

"The anti-corruption institutions must be allowed to do their work independently with enough powers and resources to investigate, prosecute and eventually ensure the conviction of those responsible for corruption."

The new court will investigate high-profile cases and is seen as the missing link in a chain of institutions created after Ukraine started large-scale reforms.

But the IMF said "it would not be able to support the draft law" that President Petro Poroshenko submitted to parliament and lawmakers approved on March 1.

The IMF has a number of other concerns with the bill in its current form.

Lawmakers are working in parliamentary committees to bring the draft in line with the IMF requirements.

Yet Poroshenko told the Financial Times that judges to the court must be appointed by Ukrainians and not foreign experts.

"If anybody can imagine that foreign donors will form Ukraine's courts, this is against the constitution," he said.