2019.07.05 15:00

First life prisoner to be released in Lithuania after a landmark ruling

Jonas Kisielius, BNS 2019.07.05 15:00

A Vilnius court on Thursday softened the prison sentence for a man who was sentenced to life in prison and replaced it with a five-year prison sentence in the first case in Lithuania.

Rimas Brazinskas was sentenced to life for the killing of a taxi driver with an accomplice in 1990; he was was 18-years-old at the time. Having spent almost 29 years behind bars, the man will be released in five years.

The decision was made after the country's Penal Code was amended earlier this year, giving hope of release to life prisoners.

Under the amendments adopted by the Lithuanian Seimas in March, a life prisoner can ask a court to review their sentence after serving at least 20 years. The court will review the person's behavior in prison and will be able, but not obliged, to replace life imprisonment with a specific term ranging from five to ten years.

The amendments came in response to the European Court of Human Rights' ruling that Lithuania violated the rights of life prisoners by depriving them of any hope of release.

Vilnius Regional Court decided to satisfy the request of Vilnius Correction House and to release Brazinskas after five years. The court concluded that the man is "very motivated to work" and also took into account the fact that he paid damages to the victim's family back in 1993.

During his time in prison, Brazinskas also finished secondary school and completed three years of studies at the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences.

Over 100 inmates are currently serving life sentences in Lithuania.