Former Ukrainian Governor Asks Miami Judge To Stop Deportation

MIAMI, FL -- A former Ukrainian governor arrested in Florida last year has asked a judge to halt his deportation, claiming U.S. officials have violated his rights and failed to verify alleged charges against him, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday.

Volodymyr Shcherban

Volodymyr Shcherban, 55, was accused of extortion and abuse of power in the Ukraine's tumultuous 2004 election after he entered the United States in April 2005.

He applied for asylum in July and was detained Oct. 12, four days after his visa had expired. Though the United States has no extradition treaty with Ukraine, officials from both countries began the deportation process.

The lawsuit alleges that the removal proceedings are illegal because individuals with pending asylum claims are allowed to remain in the United States.

Instead of an official charging document or arrest warrant, U.S. officials have only produced an "unofficial and unverified translation of a purported charging document," according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also claims U.S. officials "improperly and deliberately manipulated Mr. Shcherban's asylum appointment schedules so DHS could make the claim that he had overstayed his visa."

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman referred calls Thursday to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A CIS spokeswoman said the agency does not comment on asylum cases.

The U.S. State Department has also alleged that Shcherban was also responsible for a 2004 attack on students protesting the merger of three colleges in Sumy, where he was governor. Opposition witnesses reported protesters being pushed to the ground, beaten and dragged at least 20 feet.

Ukrainian prosecutors never filed charges against Shcherban or anyone else with these allegations, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Miami.

Shcherban's attorneys declined comment Thursday.

Shcherban ran the regional government until January 2005, when President Viktor Yushchenko assumed office and fired several high-ranking regional officials.

Shcherban had previously been a supporter of Yushchenko, who was an opposition leader before he won last year's bitterly contested presidential race. But in 2002, Shcherban fell out with Yushchenko's camp and joined the People's Choice party, which was allied with ex-President Leonid Kuchma.

Source: AP Wire