PGO closes in on Medininkai murderer

  • 2009-01-21
  • By TBT staff and wire reports
VILNIUS - The Prosecutor General's Office (PGO) has closed its investigation of one of the suspects in the Medininkai massacre case, Konstantin Mikhailov.
Mikhailov is an ex-militiaman of the Soviet Union Interior Ministry Special Purpose Police Squad (OMON) of Riga, who stands accused of the killing of seven Lithuanian border guards.

Prosecutors believe enough information has been gathered during the pretrial investigation to prosecute suspect Mikhailov, formerly known as Nikulin, as guilty of having partaken in the massacre.
"It is a big success that we have managed to do this. It is not easy to investigate this sort of case, when a lot of the suspects are in another country 's especially Russia," Aurelija Juodyte, representative of the PGO, told The Baltic Times.

Mikhailov is, however, just one of many suspects 's most of whom will likely never be brought to trial because of Russia's protection of its citizens and refusal to allow extraditions.
The sole survivor of the massacre told The Baltic Times that he is unhappy with the proceedings because the other suspects live in Russia.

"I am not satisfied with this case 's there are still people living in Russia who we are interested in for the case. The politicians have told us and the whole world that people can do bad things and then just live in Russia," Tomas Sernas said.
"I have hope for the future that these people will be brought to justice. One has to have hope 's it is a theoretical hope, not just for me, but for the whole of Europe. It is a hard thing to understand [Russia's protection of suspects]. When we have dealings or do business with Russia, we always have to keep these things at the top of our heads," he said.

According to information available to the Baltic News Service, the suspect, kept in custody in the Lukiskes Inquisition Ward, was informed of the end of investigation on Jan. 16. As laid out in Lithuanian legislation, the suspect will be given time to familiarize himself with and analyze the case, which will then go to trial.
Mikhailov, 40, is the only suspect in the case officially charged with having partaken in the murder of the officers and is also the only suspect accessible to investigators and the court.
Mikhailov has been charged with first degree murder of two or more persons, punishable by a life sentence.
The suspect in the almost 18-year-old case was detained by Latvian authorities on Nov. 28 last year under the European arrest warrant issued by Lithuania.

The ongoing investigation into other suspected OMON members 's squad commando Ceslov Mlynik, militiamen Aleksander Ryzhov and Andrej Laktionov, who are yet to be extradited by Russia to Lithuania 's is being conducted separately, the Prosecutor General's Office said.

On the morning of July 31, 1991, the Soviet militiamen are alleged to have murdered border guards Antanas Musteikis, Stanislovas Orlavicius, Aras SWAT unit officers Algimantas Juozakas and Mindaugas Balavakas, road police employees Juozas Janonis and Algirdas Kazlauskas with shots to the head from Kalashnikov assault rifles.

Police officer Ricardas Rabavicius, who experienced heavy injuries during the attack, died in the hospital Aug. 2. Tomas Sernas was the only survivor of the attack and also experienced heavy injuries at the time.
The data collected in the process of the pre-trial investigation allow the prosecutors to suspect that Riga-based hit men from OMON committed the crime on their way to the OMON base in Vilnius.
The investigation into the murders has been delayed because the suspects and many important witnesses reside in Russia.

The seven officers are believed to have been killed in Medininkai to cause confusion at the border of a country that had just declared its independence. At that time, OMON hit-men would regularly assault checkpoints and beat up officers stationed there.

The case is expected to go to trial after three months.