Country mourns Medininkai massacre, prosecutors reject statute of limitations

  • 2006-08-02
  • From wire reports
VILNIUS - Lithuania marked the 15th anniversary of Medininkai tragedy on July 31, with law enforcement officials reiterating that no statute of limitations will be applied to the masscre, which took the lives of seven Lithuanian customs and police officers. The commemoration was held at the Medininkai border checkpoint and the Antakalnis cemetery, followed by a Mass at Vilnius Cathedral in the evening.

In the early hours of July 31, 1991, Soviet militia's special unit OMON officers shot dead seven Lithuanian customs and police officers and severely injuring one other.
The suspects have not been brought to justice as they are hiding in Russia, where authorities have ignored Lithuania's requests to extradite the culprits.

Algimantas Kliunka, senior prosecutor of the Prosecutor General's Office in charge of organized crime and corruption, said no statute of limitations would be applied to the Medininkai murders, even though there is a 20-year statute currently on the books.
"It was a crime against our state and our citizens, and we are doing everything possible to restore justice," Kliunka was quoted as saying recently.
In his words, prosecutors have carried out many interrogations during the past 15 years but cannot examine all circumstances due to the lack of assistance on the Russian side. He did, however, add that the investigation has gained momentum over the past five years.

"Earlier we could only make guesses, but today we have identified the persons who committed the attack and who gave evidence," said the prosecutor. "We have repeatedly attempted to find out whether it was the state policy of the Soviet Union, however, Russia has refused to answer our inquiries, saying it was a threat to the country's national security."
Prosecutors suspect at least 20 persons from the Riga and Vilnius OMON special units could be involved in the massacre in Medininkai. All suspects now live in Russia, including one who has apparently died.
As Kliunka explained, the 11-men OMON unit from Riga had arrived in Lithuania on July 30, and seven of them carried out the attack in the early hours of the following morning.

Prosecutors have managed to find witnesses to help reveal the tragic events.
Kliunka said that Lithuanian diplomats and politicians should contribute to the successful investigation of the case.