VILNIUS – The guilty verdict in the high-profile political corruption case will have political consequences, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says, adding that it will help to clean up the political system and help people to believe in justice in Lithuania again.
"Indeed, yesterday's court judgment, I respect it and it is a matter of the court's competence, will undoubtedly have political consequences," Nauseda told reporters in Nemencine on Thursday.
On Wednesday, the Court of Appeal reversed the ruling of the court of first instance and convicted all defendants in the high-profile political corruption case centering around MG Grupe (former MG Baltic), one of Lithuania's biggest business groups. Some of the defendants were given prison terms.
Raimondas Kurlianskis, a former MG Baltic vice-president, was sentenced to six years in prison and he was fined 25,000 euros. Eligijus Masiulis, the former leader of the Liberal Movement, which is now part of the ruling block, was given a prison term of five years and six months.
MG Grupe, the Liberal Movement and the opposition Labor Party, whose member was one of the defendants, were fined more than 1.1 million euros, almost 377,000 euros and more than 301,000 euros respectively.
According to the case materials, bribes were given to politicians both in the form of cash or donations to public establishments, and even an invitation to appear on a TV program was deemed bribery. The Court of Appeal also found that a bottle of vodka and a bottle box containing money were also bribes given to Masiulis.
Nauseda likened the situation to the European spruce bark beetle, a pest that causes great damage to forests, saying that "a European spruce bark beetle has made its way through our political forest", but he hopes that stability in the state will be preserved.
The president also hopes that this would help clean up "in the medium and long term".
As the opposition earlier on Thursday called on the leader of the Liberal Movement, Speaker of the Seimas Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, to check whether she still has the confidence of the parliament, Nauseda said that "this is a matter of the ruling coalition".
The Court of Appeal's verdict entered into force immediately, on the day of its publication, but can still be appealed to the Supreme Court of Lithuania. Some of those convicted in the political corruption case have already said they will do so.