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Double murder shatters Lithuania

  • 2009-10-14
  • By Rokas M. Tracevskis
VILNIUS - A long and dirty story with accusations of pedophilia resulted in a double murder in Lithuania's second largest city, Kaunas, on Oct. 5. The alleged killer is Drasius Kedys, 37. He is now hiding from the police. Kedys has become a national hero. A majority of Lithuanians regard him as a fighter against the pedophile ring and the prosecutors, whom they accuse of making too slow progress in the alleged pedophilia scandal which has been pending for several months.

On Oct. 5, at 8:30 a.m., the black Mercedes-Benz of Kaunas District Court Judge Jonas Furmanavicius, 47, was slightly hit by a white Volkswagen Transporter van as the judge was driving out from his home. When Furmanavicius stepped out of his car, he got several shots into his stomach, and one 'control' shot into his head. The killer was a man who stepped out from the Volkswagen Transporter. The murderer escaped with his white van. Several years ago, Furmanavicius was a judge in the trial of Enrikas Daktaras, son of the now imprisoned Henrikas Daktaras, who is the alleged boss of the most notorious Kaunas criminal gang.

Four hours later the body of Violeta Naruseviciene, 29, was found near her house by her eight-year-old daughter who returned from school. Naruseviciene was shot dead with four shots, between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. A Beretta pistol was found near her body. The pistol was registered under Kedys' name. According to police, Kedys is also the legal owner of a Winchester rifle. It was not found by police in the house of Kedys' parents, where he lived. In the evening on Oct. 5, the killer's van was found abandoned.

This tragic history started with the three-year-long row between Kedys and his attractive former girlfriend, Laima Stankunaite, now 23, over their daughter, now five years old. Three years ago, Kedys took his daughter from kindergarten without Stankunaite's permission and refused to return her to her mother.

Later, a court in Kaunas stated that Kedys has better material conditions than her mother to take care of the daughter, and he was entitled to live with their daughter. Kedys could have good legal advice at home because his sister is a judge (working in the same office as the murdered Furmanavicius), and her husband is the famous lawyer who was defending the Kedys case at the court.

In 2006, upon the recommendation of Kaunas' child welfare agency, Stankunaite contacted Andrius Usas, a businessman and then also aide of Parliament Chairman Viktoras Muntianas. Usas assisted Stankunaite in the courts and successfully helped her to regain custody of her daughter from Kedys. Usas even became a godfather of Stankunaite's regained daughter during the baptism ceremony in a Catholic church.

However, later, Stankunaite signed an agreement with Kedys allowing him to keep his daughter in his and his parents' house.
In November, 2008, Kedys handed to Kaunas prosecutors a complaint about sexual exploitation of his daughter. After shifting from the Kaunas Prosecutor's Office to the General Prosecutor's Office, the alleged pedophilia case is now still under investigation. Kedys' daughter was questioned by psychologists under the decision of the prosecutors. This five-year-old girl confirmed sexual contacts with men, according to an interview with Konstantinas Daskevicius, head of the State Forensic Psychiatry Service, to LNK TV. However, the Prosecutor General Office denied this information.

Several months ago, Kedys started a Web site where he placed his own homemade video confessions by his daughter, subtitled in English, and made his appeals available on that site, also in English. Access to the site is now blocked. Kedys also  sent this material to President Dalia Grybauskaite, MPs, Ministry of Justice, Lithuanian members of the European Parliament, prosecutors and foreign embassies.

"Three interrogations of my daughter about circumstances of sexual abuse (even if, according to legal regulations, a child may be interrogated only once), complex forensic psychiatry done with my daughter, forensic psychology expertise with a categorical conclusion that my daughter can properly understand particularly essential circumstances of the case and testify. An increased predisposition to fantasize was not identified. Ten psychologists that participated in interrogations were not able to determine any "lies" from the child. However, all this does not mean anything in our legal state," wrote Kedys in his letter titled "Letter to nobody" and placed on his Web site. Over several months, he was sending similar letters to various officials.

Kedys was accusing Furmanavicius, Usas, and a man only named as Aidas of participating in pedophiliac orgies with his daughter and the then seven-year-old daughter of Stankunaite's sister, Naruseviciene. He was accusing Stankunaite and Naruseviciene of receiving money from pedophiles in exchange for sex with their daughters.
Furmanavicius, Usas, Stankunaite and Naruseviciene handed their complaints to prosecutors claiming Kedys' statements as defamation. Stankunaite told daily Lietuvos Rytas that judge Furmanavicius probably had no idea about the existence of her and her daughter, until Kedys started to accuse her of pedophilia. Stankunaite and Furmanavicius' girlfriend, Asta, told Lietuvos Rytas that Furmanavicius was not acquainted with Usas. The latter also said that he was not acquainted with judge Furmanavicius.

According to Laima Lavaste, journalist of the daily Lietuvos Rytas, who was investigating this case earlier this year, Kedys' psychological health looks doubtful to her. Lavaste also states that Kedys, living with his daughter during the last several months, could train his daughter to give a confession about alleged pedophile orgies. Earlier, Usas, Stankunaite and the now dead Naruseviciene informed prosecutors that Kedys was sending SMS messages with threatening texts to them.
In August, Kedys was telling his accusations on Lithuanian TV3 and Lietuvos Rytas TV. At that time he said that "now there is the last chance to solve this issue in a civilized manner."

Kedys could have had accomplices during the Oct. 5 killings, according to prosecutors. "We are also searching for one or two accomplices who could have assisted in the killings," Kestutis Betingis, chief prosecutor of Kaunas prosecutor's office, said during his briefing in Kaunas on Oct. 6.
On Oct. 6, Parliament Chairperson Irena Degutiene criticized the slow work of law and order institutions reacting to Kedys' accusations. "A district court judge was accused of pedophilia. Such an accusation needs to be confirmed or denied more quickly," Degutiene said.

Justice Minister Remigijus Simasius urged Lithuanians not to consider Kedys as a hero. Simasius wrote that during a fight of parents over a child, one-third of accusations of pedophilia are not truthful. "There were some cases when a mother was accusing her former husband of raping a several-year-old daughter, and she had her daughter's confession supporting such an accusation. After detailed investigations by psychologists, it was found out that the rapist was the mother," Simasius wrote in his blog.

From Oct. 9 - 10, hundreds of demonstrators, who organized themselves via Facebook, protested against the prosecutor's slow work in this alleged pedophilia case in front of the Prosecutor General's Office in Vilnius. From Oct. 9-11, similar demonstrations were held in front of the prosecutors' office in Kaunas. Among other posters was a poster stating "Drasius Kedys is the defender of children." There were many young mothers and their children participating in the protest. They brought teddy bears and candles to the prosecutors' offices.

The protesters demanded the resignation of Prosecutor General Algimantas Valantinas, Children's Rights Ombudsman Rimante Salaseviciute and other officials who were slow to react to Kedys' accusations, according to the demonstrators.
On Oct. 12, an explosion broke windows in the Social Democrat Party headquarters. One man was injured. The office of Children's Rights Ombudsman Salaseviciute, is situated in the same building. Prosecutors say that the explosion was probably just a technical incident.

After the double murder of Oct. 5, the five-year-old daughter of Stankunaite and Kedys was held in the Children's Development Center. On Oct. 12, temporary custody of this girl was given to judge Neringa Venckiene, who is Kedys' sister and former colleague of the murdered judge Furmanavicius.

On Oct. 12, Kedys' mobile phone started to work again though nobody answered. It has been switched off since the day of the killings. This could mean that this story is coming to some end. "I don't know the reason for the tragedy in Kaunas. I'm not sure that it was Kedys who was firing the shots," Salaseviciute told daily Lietuvos Rytas on Oct. 12, adding more mystery to this Twin Peaks-style story.