Experts find Lithuanian MP Zemaitaitis' posts as hate speech – top prosecutor

  • 2024-02-12
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuanian Prosecutor General Nida Grunskiene on Monday asked the parliament to strip MP Remigijus Zemaitaitis of his legal immunity because of his anti-Semitic remarks.

"We have the MP's public statements and expert conclusions stating that these statements incite hatred against people of Jewish nationality, which is why today I addressed the Seimas with a request to allow the MP to be prosecuted," Grunskiene said. 

Data collected during the pre-trial investigation give grounds to believe that in his Facebook posts of May 9, June 13, June 14 and June 15 of last year, Zemaitaitis "possibly publicly ridiculed, expressed contempt for and incited hatred against a group of people of Jewish nationality", she said.

According to the prosecutor general, Zemaitaitis confirmed posting the comments on Facebook, but he disagrees that his statements should be interpreted as hate speech. He said during the questioning that he just expressed his opinion publicly.

Zemaitaitis, who has legal immunity from prosecution, last September was questioned as a special witness in the probe launched on May 8.

Following the prosecutor general's request, the parliament set up a commission to look into whether there are grounds for stripping Zemaitaitis of his immunity. It is due to present its conclusion by Wednesday, when a vote is scheduled in the parliament on this matter.

Prosecutors want to charge Zemaitaitis with public ridicule and contempt for and incitement to hatred against a group of people of Jewish nationality. 

The parliament has launched an impeachment procedure against Zemaitaitis over the same Facebook posts. 

The Constitutional Court last December accepted for examination the parliament's petition asking the court to look into whether Zemaitaitis broke his oath of office and grossly violated the Constitution.   

The impeachment text quotes Zemaitaitis' posts, such as "It turns out that, besides Putin, another animal has emerged in the world – ISRAEL" or "We, the Lithuanian nation, must never forget the Jews and the Russians who very actively contributed to the DESTRUCTION OF OUR PEOPLE!", and others. 

"After such events, it is no wonder why such sayings are born: 'A Jew climbed a ladder and fell down accidentally. Take a stick, children, and kill that little Jew'," the MP wrote, referring to a folk counting-out rhyme.  

Zemaitaitis has repeatedly expressed similar views on social media and verbally. He reiterated at the parliament on Monday that he does not consider his statements to be anti-Semitic.

"Absolutely not. If you look at tonight's events, Israel continues to bomb Palestine, 50 Palestinians were killed overnight. If you think that parasites and barbarians like Israel can lead the world and can continue to kill people, good luck. Because Putin is the same", the MP told reporters.

If the Constitutional Court finds that Zemaitaitis violated the Constitution, the parliament will vote on stripping the MP of his mandate. At least 85 votes in the 141-member parliament are needed to pass the motion.