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2019.11.14 14:00

MG Baltic owner calls Lithuania's biggest corruption trial 'political reprisal'

BNS2019.11.14 14:00

The owner of MG Baltic corporation, Darius Mockus, says the the largest corruption case in Lithuania's post-independence history is linked to former President Dalia Grybauskaitė's alleged requests for positive coverage by the group's media.

The trial involving MG Baltic also implicates the Liberal Movement, the Labour Party, as well as other officials and business representatives.

"All that's going on here, what can be called a case of political corruption or political reprisal, is apparently a continuation of a certain position, because the group's media outlets were never influenced by the shareholders. I think this is one of the consequences," the group's owner told reporters at the Vilnius Regional Court on Wednesday afternoon.

Mockus says Grybauskaitė's "wishes" for positive coverage were communicated to him by intermediaries.

A three-hour secret audio recording of a meeting between MG Baltic's officials and Eligijus Masiulis, the Liberal Movement's former leader, and Gintaras Steponavičius, a former member of the party, in a Vilnius restaurant in December 2015 was played in court on Wednesday afternoon.

Mockus' testimony was postponed until early December.

Mockus was sworn in as a witness at the trial. He had the status of a special witness in the pre-trial investigation.

Kurlianskis, MG Baltic's former vice-president, is on trial on a charge of bribing politicians in exchange of decisions favorable for the business group.

Other persons indicted on corruption charges include former liberal MP Šarūnas Gustainis and former Labour Party MP Vytautas Gapsys. MP Gintaras Steponavičius was charged with abuse of office.

Formal charges in the political corruption case were also brought against the Liberal Movement and the Labor Party as legal entities.

All defendants deny the charges, saying the investigation was biased.

The court plans to continue hearing the case in late November.