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UEFA 'can't close eyes' on Tymoshenko situation: EU

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(LUXEMBOURG) - UEFA cannot ignore the plight of Ukraine's jailed ex-premier ahead of the 2012 Euro football championship co-hosted by Ukraine, the European Union's justice commissioner said Friday.

Viviane Reding was invited by UEFA chief Michel Platini to attend the opening ceremony of the tournament in Ukraine but said she had declined the offer for "institutional reasons."

Reding said she told Platini "to take into account the dramatic situation" of Yulia Tymoshenko, who is on a hunger strike and claims she was beaten by her jailers.

"You cannot close your eyes on human rights, even during a great sporting celebration," she told reporters after talks among EU justice ministers in Luxembourg.

The Ukraine opposition leader was jailed in October on charges of abuse of power in a move that has strained relations between Ukraine and the EU as Kiev readies to co-host the European football tourney with Poland in June.

The European Union has voiced concern about Tymoshenko, 51, and called on Ukrainian authorities to allow independent doctors to visit her.

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