War crimes proceedings

  • 2000-07-13
Savenko gets two years in prison

LIEPAJA, Latvia (BNS) - The Kurzeme Regional Court on July 7 found former officer of Soviet security agencies Yevgeny Savenko guilty on genocide charges and sentenced him to two years of imprisonment.

Savenko, 86, was charged with participating in repressions against over 60 people in Latvia in 1940.

The sentence may be appealed within 10 days, therefore Savenko was not taken into custody. The time he spent in custody during the pre-trial investigation, as well as during the proceedings, is included meaning that Savenko will have to spend one year and a half in prison.

The court was lenient to Savenko, as under the law, a person can be sentenced to imprisonment from 3 to 15 years or even for life for the given crimes. Savenko's lawyer, Raimonds Cuadrs, said he was going to file an appellate claim and ask his client's acquittal due to lack of evidence.

After the court session, Savenko himself said that he did not see any point in appealing the sentence, as this action would only result in delay. He admitted, though, that he had hoped for a suspended sentence.

Russian Consul General to Liepaja, Valery Polakov, said that "even the lightest sentence is a very severe, ungrounded punishment."

The prosecutor during the discussions asked to punish Savenko with five years' imprisonment. According to her, the fact that Savenko acted on instructions by superiors does not relieve him of any responsibility.

The court, however, took into account a number of mitigating circumstances when deciding on the sentence, including Savenko's old age, status as a disabled person, his decision to plead guilty and apologize to the victims.

Savenko was charged with crimes committed in 1940 immediately after Latvia's occupation by the Soviet Union. His victims included independent Latvia's border guards, policemen, military officials, students and other civilians whom the Soviet rule regarded as socially dangerous and hostile towards it.

Savenko prosecuted those people in order to bring illegal and unsubstantiated criminal charges against them. He charged his victims with membership in 'terrorist organizations' such as student fraternities. Many of the defendants were tried for treason and executed on those false charges.

Aleksandras Lileikis' trial off

VILNIUS (BNS) - On July 3 the Vilnius Area Court suspended the war-crimes trial of Aleksandras Lileikis after a medical panel diagnosed the 93-year-old defendant unfit to participate in court hearings even via video link from his sickbed.

The case is formally closed until the defendant's health improves, and grounds for suspension of trial are eliminated.

However, the elderly genocide suspect is sick with a number of diseases including an incurable illness.

Judges obliged doctors to inform the court about Lileikis' health on a monthly basis and to notify of any possibility for the suspect to monitor court sessions with the help of a closed video circuit.

Lileikis is being treated at the Santariskes Clinic in Vilnius

University Hospital. He was rushed to the hospital 10 days ago from an Old Town apartment of his relatives, which was video linked to the Vilnius Area Court. The suspect monitored about 20 minutes of the court hearing and answered several questions before starting to deteriorate.

Lileikis, a former U.S. citizen who was stripped of his passport for concealing his war-time activities, is charged with handing over 75 Jews to Nazi death squads when he headed a unit of Nazi sponsored regional security police during World War II.

He denies all accusations and maintains that he worked for a Lithuanian anti-Nazi underground movement during the war.

Kazys Gimzauskas, 92

VILNIUS (BNS) - After an overall forensic psychiatric examination, Kazys Gimzauskas, 92, indicted for the genocide of Lithuanian Jews, has been diagnosed by medical experts as unable to perceive and control his actions.

This in effect signifies that Gimzauskas is irresponsible and in line with Lithuanian laws, such person cannot stand in court.

A panel of judges of the Vilnius regional court will confer on Sept. 11 to decide the future of the above criminal case, the court's spokesperson said.

On April 26, the Gimzauskas' case was re-opened after its suspension in February 1999, as a result of the defendant's health.

Gimzauskas failed to attend all court hearings of his case. He has been indicted for acting as an accomplice in committing a crime and for the genocide of Lithuanian citizens. The names of five Jewish people have been specifically mentioned in his bill of indictment whom he had allegedly sent to death in the period from 1941 to 1944.

His boss at that time was Aleksandras Lileikis, whose case was suspended last July 3.