Prosecutor seeks 9-year jail sentence for Lithuania's ex-politician in spying trial

  • 2021-05-19
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – The public prosecutor on Wednesday asked Siauliai Regional Court to sentence Algirdas Paleckis, a former Lithuanian politician charged with spying for Russia, to nine years in prison.  

Vilma Vidugiriene, the prosecutor, also asked the court to release Vilnius-based businessman Deimantas Bertauskas, the other defendant in the trial, from criminal liability, Vytautas Joncas, the court's spokesman, told BNS. 

The prosecutor said in her closing argument to the court that the guilt of both defendants had been proven by evidence collected during the pre-trial and trial processes, materials collected by the State Security Department, documents and records found during searches, and other evidence. 

While Bertauskas has admitted his guilt throughout the process and his testimony has been consistent and comprehensive, Paleckis has repeatedly changed his testimony, depending on new evidence emerging in the case, according to Vidugiriene.  

She asked the court to release the businessman from criminal liability, because his detailed testimony had helped to uncover the "grave crime".

Paleckis' defense lawyers, Adomas Liutvinskas and Kestutis Ragaisis, are to deliver their closing arguments on June 22. 

Paleckis and Bertauskas are standing trial on charges of spying for the benefit of a foreign country in an organized group. While the latter admits his guilt, the former politician denies any wrongdoing, saying he was conducting a journalistic investigation.

According to the Prosecutor General's Office, the defendants, acting in an organized group with a Russian intelligence officer and other Russian citizens, including one found guilty in the January 13, 1991 crackdown case, allegedly collected information of interest for Russian intelligence in Lithuania between February 2017 and October 2018 for monetary and other remuneration.

"Other remuneration" included assistance in establishing contacts with representatives of a Russian political party to secure funding for one of the political parties registered in Lithuania, as well as assistance in establishing business ties.

Prosecutors say the defendants were also tasked with collecting information on officers and judges who worked on the January 13 case in Lithuania, and on other cases related to Russia's aggression in Lithuania in 1990-1991.

Among other things, the defendants allegedly had to find people working for Lithuanian institutions who would agree to provide false information to Lithuanian law enforcement institutions about the health state of Yuri Mel in exchange for unlawful monetary remuneration, in an attempt to replace his detention with a milder measure of restraint or improve his detention conditions.