2019.11.12 11:00

Lithuania turns to MEPs for help protecting judges from Russian prosecution

BNS 2019.11.12 11:00

The European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) is scheduled to discuss on Tuesday Lithuania's request to help protect its judges and prosecutors from Russian prosecution.

Russia said in July 2018 it had opened a criminal case against Lithuanian judges and prosecutors involved in the so-called January 13 case, in which the former Soviet Defence Minister Dmitry Yazov and more than 60 other former Soviet officials and military officers were convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"We plan to discuss with the committee's members how to ensure the rule of law, independence and impartiality of judges in the European Union so as to protect judges and prosecutors from any interference or external influences," Justice Minister Elvinas Jankevičius said in a statement on the eve of the LIBE meeting.

Prosecutor General Evaldas Pašilis, and Kaunas Regional Court President Nerijus Meilutis, who represents Lithuania in the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ), are also taking part in the meeting in Brussels.

Jankevičius expects the European Parliament to adopt a resolution on this issue.

"I want to emphasize that Lithuanian judges are EU judges. They are fulfilling their constitutional duties, and it is our duty to guarantee their safety and to prevent them from being subjected to pressure or other means of influence," he added.

Moscow accuses them of "unlawful prosecution of Russian citizens".

Fourteen civilians were killed and hundreds more were wounded when the Soviet troops stormed the TV Tower and the Radio and Television Committee building in Vilnius in the early hours of January 13, 1991.

The Soviet Union used military force in its attempt to remove the government of Lithuania which declared independence on March 11, 1990.