Paksas cleared of criminal charges

  • 2004-10-27
  • From wire reports
VILNIUS - Former President Rolandas Paksas had a great weight lifted off his shoulders on Oct. 25 when a Vilnius court cleared him of criminal charges related to leaking a state secret.

Later in the day his victory was sweetened when he was informed that the Prosecutor General's Office had discontinued a pretrial investigation into the criminal case on possible unlawful interference by state officials, the president's office and law enforcement officials involved with the Zemaitijos Keliai property disputes over share control.

The ruling came as a surprise since the Constitutional Court, the country's highest judicial office, had previously ruled that, in seeking to satisfy the property interests of individuals, Paksas gave orders to his adviser Visvaldas Rackauskas to use his official status and force Zemaitijos Keliai's hand so that shares of the lucrative company would be transferred to individuals in Paksas' circle.

The Prosecutor General's Office, which had begun an investigation into abuses of power on May 20, discontinued its efforts after deciding that there was not enough evidence.

In the case reviewed by the Vilnius district court, Paksas was accused of informing his most generous election sponsor, Russian businessman Yury Borisov, that the State Security Department had wiretapped his telephone.

The court, however, decided that no indisputable evidence existed as to Borisov's knowledge of the wiretapping.

Upon handing down the ruling, the court canceled the restraining order - a pledge not to leave the country - that it had imposed on Paksas.

State prosecutor Mindaugas Duda did not say whether or not he would use his right to appeal against the ruling within 20 days. Previously he had asked the court to find the ex-president guilty of revealing a state secret and to fine him 9,375 litas (2,715 euros).

Paksas never admitted his guilt and referred to both the court process and the investigations as a continuation of the impeachment campaign against him.

Paksas was ousted from the president's office in April for violating the constitution and his oath of office. Under the Constitutional Court's ruling, he is forbidden to take a state office involving an oath for the rest of his life.