Suspects questioned for prosecutor's murder

  • 2002-08-22
  • Rokas M. Tracevskis

The Lithuanian press is reporting that police here have solved the 1999 high-profile murder of Panevezys district prosecutor Gintaunas Sereika.

Lietuvos Rytas and Respublika, the country's leading dailies, reported last week that convicted murderer Vladas Blinkevicius ordered the killing of Sereika, who was shot seven times outside his home on Jan. 25, 1999.

Sereika was a prosecutor in the crime and corruption department in Panevezys, an infamous haven for organized crime.

Lithuania's Prosecutor Gene-ral's Office is refusing to comment on the reports.

"I'm not denying and I'm not confirming that Blinkevicius was the organizer of Sereika's murder," said Algimantas Kliunka, chief prosecutor of the Lithuanian Prosecutor General's Office. He told Respublika., "I would be a liar if I denied this information, but I can't confirm it now."

Respublika reported, quoting unnamed police sources, that Blinkevicius confessed that he ordered 24-year-old Arunas Varnas to shoot Sereika.

Blinkevicius, 37, is currently in police custody in connection with the 1997 murder of Virginijus Marscionka, an alleged gangster from Panevezys.

He has yet to be tried.

Varnas was detained following Blinkevicius' statement, according to prosecutor's office spokesman Vidmantas Putelis.

"Both Blinkevicius and Varnas are detained," said Putelis. "At this moment, their official status in the Sereika murder case is 'suspects.' We did find a gun with which Sereika was shot. "

Prosecutors say Blinkevicius is associated with the Tulpiniai gang, which terrorized Panevezys in the 1990s. The gang's leaders are now in prison.

Sereika was investigating the gang's activities.

"This crime is connected with the Tulpiniai gang," Putelis said.

Panevezys, Lithuania's fifth largest city, was nicknamed "Lithuania's Chicago" thanks to its gang activity led by the Tulpiniai gang, which took its name from the city's Tulpiu ("Tulips") Street, where many of the gang members lived.

In the last two years, Panevezys, which has a population of 122,000, has undergone a makeover and is one of the country's safest cities, according to police there.