Jail sentences sought for Czech family in Lithuanian amusement park slavery case

  • 2024-02-26
  • BNS/TBT Staff

KLAIPEDA – The public prosecutor is seeking prison sentences ranging from seven to twelve years for a Czech family accused of exploiting socially vulnerable foreign nationals at their amusement park in the Lithuanian seaside resort of Sventoji.

Ruslanas Usinskas, the prosecutor, has asked the Klaipeda Regional Court to sentence Frantisek Kolomaznicek, 45, to 12 years in prison, his 42-year-old wife Marta to eight years in jail, and their 21-year-old son Frantisek Kolomaznicek to seven years behind bars, and to order the Check family to pay the victims 30,000 euros.

According to the case-file, the family hired three men, two Czechs and a Pole, promising them well-paid jobs at their amusement park in Lithuania. The victims were also promised accommodation, meals and social guarantees.

According to law enforcement, the three men were brought to Lithuania in a truck trailer in June 2019 and held captive for three months and exploited in conditions of slavery: they slept on a foam mat, and had to use a bucket to relieve themselves and a garden hose to wash themselves. 

All three members of the family deny the charges.

"I agree with our lawyers that this is nonsense; it's all made up, not based on truth," the 45-year-old man, who attended the hearing remotely, told the Klaipeda Regional Court last week. 

His wife also said that she agreed with the lawyer that "these are fabricated things."

Their son echoed them, saying, "I agree with that and insist that I'm innocent, and I'm leaving everything to the lawyers".

Dalius Povilius, the lawyer representing the victims in the case, told the court that "it would be a shame to impose lighter sentences", because in the Czech Republic, money is confiscated and prison sentences are imposed for what are called modern slavery offences.

The victims were not present during the hearing. Lawyers representing the defendants said they were surprised that Povilius had failed to find them throughout the entire judicial process. 

"Povilius failed to find the victims, but they will be found if the money is awarded," said one of the lawyers. 

Povilius said that the 30,000 euros sought in the civil action will not be available to anyone other than the victims and that enforcement orders will be issued on their behalf.

People who testified earlier in this case said that three men working in Sventoji had been kept in inhumane conditions, beaten and locked in carriages at night.

According to witnesses, the three foreigners appeared homeless – unwashed, in dirty clothes, unkempt, hungry, and asking for food. They worked from early morning to late evening.

A woman who reported the ill-treatment to the police testified in court that her patience ran out when she saw the family's eldest son hitting one of the workers in the ribs with a metal wrench.

The investigation revealed that the Czech family had constantly intimidated the men and taken away their passports. The family claims, however, that they may have been slandered due to competition.

The Klaipeda Regional Court is expected to deliver its judgement in the case in late March.