MYSTERIOUS YOUNG LADY: Egle Kusaite.
VILNIUS - On March 24, the Vilnius court started to investigate, at the request of prosecutors, renewing the pre-trial imprisonment of 21-year old Egle Kusaite. Prosecutors say that being free, she allegedly can influence other suspects in the alleged terrorism case and such influence can be harmful for the investigation. On Oct. 24, 2009, this young woman and Muslim convert from Klaipeda (now she lives in Vilnius) was arrested by the Lithuanian State Security Department on suspicions that she, as a future suicide bomber, was ready to travel to Russia’s capital Moscow, where her Chechen Internet friends lived and who allegedly were giving instructions to her. On Aug. 2, 2010, the Vilnius Court of Appeal decided to release Kusaite from prison, stating that she did not commit a real crime and can wait for the final verdict in her case while free. On April 4, the Vilnius court is expected to make a decision on whether to put Kusaite back in jail or not.
On Jan. 19, 2010, two Chechens, Apti Magmadov, 31, and his sister Aishat Magmadova, 22, were arrested in the Moscow region by the Russian Federal Security Service on suspicion of recruiting Kusaite for the mission of suicide bomber in some Russian army base in Chechnya.
Last week, on March 24, Prosecutor Mindaugas Duda, who is now in charge of Kusaite’s case, expressed his fear that now Kusaite co-ordinates her statements via mobile phone with those two Chechens via Magmadovs’ mother. On March 22, Kusaite’s mobile phone was confiscated during a search of Kusaite’s flat. The search was conducted under suspicion that she sent an SMS with threats to Prosecutor Justas Laucius, who was in charge of Kusaite’s interrogations until July 2010. Kusaite denies sending an SMS to Laucius. She also denies accusations about her terrorist intentions. Earlier, she stated that when she was under arrest, prosecutors forced her to testify about terrorist intentions, torturing her with the help of invited people from the Russian Federal Security Service.
“We found out that Kusaite is making, and will make, obstacles in the case’s investigation,” Prosecutor Duda said on March 24 after the court’s hearings on the possible re-imprisonment of Kusaite. Kestutis Stungys, lawyer of Kusaite, stated that on Aug. 2, 2010, when Vilnius Court of Appeals decided to release Kusaite from pre-trial imprisonment, it did not ban Kusaite from communicating with Magmadovs’ mother.
“It is a country of nonsense. Laucius and Duda are criminals,” Kusaite told journalists during an improvised briefing in the Vilnius court on March 28.
On March 28, Vilnius prosecutors officially stated that new charges, which are charges of the threat to kill, can be brought against Kusaite. They say that they are investigating the SMS with the threat to kill, which was sent from Kusaite’s mobile phone to the mobile phone of Prosecutor Laucius. Kusaite denies sending this SMS. She says that she does not even know Laucius’ phone number. According to Kusaite, prosecutors can manipulate her mobile phone, which was confiscated from her flat during the search of March 22.
On Feb. 12, Yulia Latynina, a famous Russian journalist and critic of the current authoritarian regime in Russia, speaking on Moscow’s only independent radio Ekho Moskvy, praised the Lithuanian State Security Department for the arrest of Kusaite and condemned the Russian Federal Security Service for not being able to stop Russia’s North Caucasus-based suicide bombers from coming to Moscow, where they commit terrorist acts. “Why can the Lithuanian special service stop terrorist acts in Russia and the Russian special service cannot do so in Russia?” she asked during her traditional one-hour long Saturday speech about the situation in Russia and the world. Latynina also said that there are Islamist instructions for unlucky arrested followers of violent jihad, obliging them to lie to human rights defenders and media about torture committed on them by law-and-order officials.
However, Lithuanian human rights activists are not so sure about the correctness of the actions of the Lithuanian State Security Department in Kusaite’s case. According to Henrikas Mickevicius, director of the Lithuanian NGO Human Rights Monitoring Institute, and other human rights activists, the Lithuanian State Security Department was deeply involved in Kusaite’s life (as she says, due to her friendship with a Chechen refugee) since her early teenage years. Human rights activists say that the Lithuanian State Security Department could even, possibly, inspire Kusaite to go on a suicide bomber mission to get a record of successful terrorism prevention operations to justify high state financing of the department.
On March 24, Judge Arturas Pazarskis was in charge of the Kusaite case in the Vilnius court, instead of Judge Zenonas Birstonas, who was assigned for this case earlier. The substitution was caused by an incident on the morning of March 23, when a witness in another case found that Birstonas, 62, was sitting in his office drunk. Journalists were called up and all Lithuanian TV channels broadcast how completely drunk Birstonas was, trying to escape from a journalist, falling down the stairs in the court building and later speaking in unprintable language. “You are piece of sh… F…,” Birstonas said, and his message reached almost every Lithuanian household via TV. On March 28, President Dalia Grybauskaite fired Birstonas from his job without the right to receive a high judge retirement pension.
It is not the first strange drunkenness of an official related to the Kusaite case. On Jan. 4, Algimantas Kliunka, chief prosecutor of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Organized Crime and Corruption Prevention Department, which investigated the Kusaite case, was brought from a bar in the Vilnius railway station quarter to the police station for drunken misbehavior in that bar. The next morning, Kliunka resigned and he has not been a prosecutor since then.