The Social Liberal Party announced Jan. 8 they have turned down an invitation by the Social Democrats to join them in a ruling coalition. The Social Liberals' 10 parliamentary seats would give the coalition majority status. Social Liberals' chairman Arturas Paulauskas, who confirmed he was indirectly offered the post of Environment Minister should the Social Liberals join the coalition, claimed that joining would mean working under "2K" (Kubilius and Kirkilas) program, thus the decision not to join was essentially unanimous.
Two Lithuanian citizens suspected of smuggling a total of more than 500 kg of hashish through Estonia are to be handed over to Estonian prosecutors, the Lithuanian Appeals Court ruled on Jan. 8. If convicted, the two could face life in prison. Estonian prosecutors suspect that the two Lithuanians, along with their Estonian accomplices, transported the hashish from the Netherlands to Russia via Estonia on five occasions between November 2005 and October 2006. Investigators have also disclosed details of their sale of an unidentified amount of drugs in Finland.
The high-profile case of four women suspected of organizing a human trafficking racket for the benefit of Arab sheiks has reached Klaipeda's district court, BNS reported on Jan. 4. Founder of concert and event agency Harmonijos Pasaulis, Daiva Mondeikiene along with her sister Nadezhda Nitiuk, Edita Gabaliene 's wife of popular singer Ceslovas Gabalis, and Julija Tislenko will be tried in the case. They have been indicted for profiting from prostitution of third parties as well as involving them in prostitution. It is alleged that from 2001 to 2005, the suspects induced girls to travel to the United Arab Emirates, England, France, Monaco and the Seychelles by promising them modelling jobs. It is estimated that around 280 women were involved in the ring.
Four Lithuanian tourists found themselves stranded Berlin on New Year's night with a total of 30 euros in their pockets after they missed their tour bus, Lietuvos Rytas reported on Jan. 7. Their guide had told them their bus would only wait for 30 minutes and the driver stuck very strictly to the schedule. The men had arrived about five minutes late. However they manged to catch up with their tour group in Poland by walking to the train station, buying tickets to Frankfurt (Oder), and crossing the border by foot.
The latest twist in the custody battle over Luisa Rinau, a girl of mixed Lithuanian-German parentage, came on Jan. 7 when the Supreme Court annulled lower courts' rulings requiring her mother to hand her over to her father in Germany. The Supreme Court said the lower courts failed to take into account significant facts and unsuitably qualified circumstances that were vital for the case. Previous court rulings had upheld the decision by a German court that Luisa be returned to Germany. The girl was born in Germany but raised by her mother and speaks only Lithuanian. Her mother, Klaipeda native Inge Rinau, has kept her in hiding since the earlier repatriation order.