Lithuania's JustMin drafts EP resolution on Jan 13 judges

  • 2019-09-06
  • BNS/TBT Staff

BRUSSELS – Lithuania's Ministry of Justice announced on Friday it has drafted a European Parliament resolution to condemn Russia's actions against the judges and prosecutors who worked on the high-profile January 13 case.

The draft resolution condemns Russian institutions' any actions "creating conditions for the persecution of judges and prosecutors of an independent state, performing their constitutional duty to execute justice in a case extremely important for the Lithuanian nation," the ministry said in a statement.

It also states that Lithuanian judges are the whole European Unions' judges and any influence on them should be deemed as a violation of the rule of law in the EU.

"I am glad that Lithuania's active efforts have helped to raise the January 13 case and the issue of independence of the judges and prosecutors involved in this case to the international level," Justice Minister Elvinas Jankevicius said.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda discussed the drafting of such a resolution with European Parliament President David-Maria Sassoli during his visit to Brussels earlier this week.

In late July, the justice minister discussed with Juan Fernando Lopez-Aguilar, chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the high-profile January 13 case, and also informed about the prosecution of the case's investigators and judges, launched by Russia.

In July, 2018, the Russian Investigative Committee launched a criminal investigation against Lithuanian judges and prosecutors who worked on the January 13 case in Lithuania, and in March, Russia charged former Lithuanian prosecutor Simonas Slapsinskas in absentia for alleged unlawful prosecution of its citizens.

The Russian Investigative Committee stated that Slapsinskas, who worked on the high-profile January 13 massacre case, was accused in absentia of "unlawful prosecution of Russian citizens".

Lithuania's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called Russian law enforcement's actions "open pressure on Lithuania, its courts and law enforcement officers."

In late March, a panel of three judges found 67 citizens of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and issued prison sentences ranging from four to 14 years.

Among those convicted also was Dmitry Yazov, 94, former Soviet defense minister, who was sentenced to ten years in prison in absentia.

Almost 700 people are deemed victims in this case, and almost 1,000 people were questioned as witnesses.

The majority of the defendants were sentenced in absentia as Russia and Belarus have refused to extradite them.

Fourteen civilians were killed and hundreds more were wounded when the Soviet troops stormed the TV Tower and the Radio and Television Committee building in Vilnius in the early hours of Jan. 13, 1991.

The Soviet Union used military force to overthrow the legitimate government of Lithuania, which declared independence on March 11, 1990.