Paksas' acquittal reversed

  • 2005-03-09
  • By TBT staff
VILNIUS - The Court of Appeal found ex-president Rolandas Paksas guilty of leaking a state secret on March 1, thereby nullifying his acquittal last year.
"Those who started the [political] process had sought this decision so they could justify their previous actions," Paksas said after the trial, promising to take the case to higher judicial levels.

The former president was greatly relieved when a Vilnius Court cleared him last October of criminal charges related to leaking a state secret. Paksas, who was impeached in April for violating his oath of office and the Constitution, had been accused of telling his campaign financier and Russian businessman Yuri Borisov that the latter's phone conversations had been wiretapped by the State Security Department. The ruling read that there was no indisputable evidence that Borisov had learned about the wiretapping specifically from Paksas.

Nevertheless, the Prosecutor General's Office appealed against the Vilnius Court's ruling and the Court of Appeals reversed the original acquittal. The judges, however, excused Paksas from punishment as he did not, in their opinion, pose any threat to the state after being removed from office, and discontinued the case against him.

Neither will Paksas be required to pay a fine of 9,375 litas (2,715 euros), which prosecutors had called for.

Paksas insisted that he was innocent throughout the trial, arguing that the case was a continuation of the impeachment hearing against him. He once again repeated that he had neither deliberately nor unknowingly told Borisov that his conversations were wiretapped.

Prosecutors claimed that on March 17, 2003, Borisov paid Paksas a visit, the same day the former learned about the wiretapping of his conversations from Paksas.

Former security employees were called by the Court of Appeal but they said that they couldn't remember anything of the meeting in question. The judges said they could only wonder at how employees who once safeguarded the president and his house had no recollection of who had passed through the building.

"I have heard four testimonies and I'm shocked: this was the main person in the country and those who had to ensure his safety don't remember anything 's if anyone arrived, if anyone left, if anyone visited the president. If something had happened to the president, nobody would have been able to find anything," the Court of Appeal's judge said.

During the trial Borisov confirmed that he had known about the wiretapping since 1998, when the activity of his company Avia Baltika was monitored. Borisov said the lists of phone calls, from which Paksas' accusation was based, were fake, and he categorically denied that the president informed him about the wiretapped conversations.

The pretrial investigation was launched on April 26 last year, shortly after Paksas was stripped of his post for gross violations of the Constitution.