Former health care vice minister sentenced

  • 2010-02-10
  • By Rokas M. Tracevskis

VILNIUS - On Feb. 5, Arturas Skikas, former vice minister of health care, was sentenced to two years imprisonment, but was let off with a two year probation. This means that after spending 15 days in the Lukiskes Prison, on Feb. 5, Skikas was set free from court but now has a court record on his CV.

On Jan. 21, Health Care Vice Minister Arturas Skikas was arrested by the Special Investigation Service, which carries out activities to detect and disclose corruption-related offenses such as corruption, bribery and abuse of power. He demanded a 20,000 litas (5,800 euro) bribe from Vytenis Kalibatas, director of the National Blood Center. Skikas was fired from his job after the event.

At the trial, Skikas confessed that he asked Kalibatas to give him a big sum, although immediately after his arrest Skikas denyied taking the money. Skikas blamed emotional stress for the difference in his statements.
“I recognize that I asked the honorable doctor Vytenis Kalibatas to support the party branch of the town of Silute,” Skikas said in court. Skikas was member of the Liberal and Center Union. After his arrest, he suspended his party membership. On Feb. 8, the party leadership officially decided to kick him out of the ranks of the party.

Kalibatas was not questioned in court. “It is a short-cut process,” explained prosecutor Mindaugas Barkauskas. Such type of process was chosen by Skikas in exchange for admitting his crime.
The court also ordered Skikas to pay 3,250 litas to the Crime Victims’ Foundation and 1,000 litas to Kalibatas as moral compensation.

After the process, President Dalia Grybauskaite said that Algis Caplikas, health care minister, his party the Liberal Centrists as well as the entire ruling coalition should consider taking responsibility for wrongdoings in the Health Care Ministry. On Feb. 8, Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said that Caplikas should stay in his post.

According to Bernaras Ivanovas, political analyst at Vytautas Magnus University of Kaunas, in case of such a bribe taking scandal in Scandinavia, the entire ruling coalition would resign, while in the case of such a scandal in France or Germany, the minister would resign. On Feb. 10, Health Care Minister Caplikas resigned from his post.