2020.02.21 12:00

Lithuanian court upholds sexual harassment ruling against ex-MP

BNS 2020.02.21 12:00

A court in Lithuania upheld the guilty verdict against former Lithuanian MP Kęstutis Pūkas in sexual harassment case. He was also found guilty of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

"The defendant has been found guilty on two counts, including sexual harassment against the victim who worked as his assistant, and also the violation of the rules on the possession of firearms and ammunition," Judge Gabriele Juodkaite-Granskiene said on Thursday.

Read more: Former Lithuanian MP found guilty of sexually harassing his assistant

The verdict is final and binding, the Lithuanian Supreme Court said.

Lower-instance courts found Pūkas guilty of sexually harassing his assistant, but acquitted him on harassment charges made by three other young women who sought the job of secretary-assistant.

Pūkas resigned as MP in January 2018 shortly before the vote in Seimas whether to strip him of his mandate.

The Constitutional Court ruled that Pūkas breached the oath and violated the Constitution by sexually harassing his assistants and female candidates for this position.

Cassation appeals were filed with the Supreme Court by the defendant, prosecutor and three victims, but the court rejected them all, the judge said on Thursday

In its cassation appeal, the prosecutor asked to revisit the rulling in which Pūkas was acquitted of sexual harassment against three other victims.

Pūkas, meanwhile, asked to uphold the ruling of the first instance court when he was acquitted.

"We respect [the decision] as we hoped for a similar ruling,"Karolis Rugys, lawyer for the victims, told reporters.

He also said the victims are satisfied with the ruling as it clearly shows that harassment is unacceptable.

"It sends a good message that one needs to defend one's rights, should not be afraid of harassers, that harassment is unacceptable and one could face liability," Rugys said.

Meanwhile, Aušra Ručienė defending Pūkas, said they plan to turn to the European Court of Human Rights.

"I believe my client and I will turn to the European Court of Human Rights. We are convinced that the court of appeal failed to properly consider cassation appeals," the lawyer said.