2020.04.23 16:23

Lawyers detained for alleged pressure on Lithuanian intelligence officers

BNS 2020.04.23 16:23

Three Vilnius lawyers and a businessman were detained on Tuesday on suspicions of unlawful pressure on the director and an investigator of the country's anti-corruption agency, the Special Investigation Service (STT).

Based on information available to BNS, the detained lawyers are Giedrius Danėlius, a partner at WINT Law Firm, and Vladas Rakauskas and Dainius Baronas of the law firm Intra Lex.

Danėlius is a defence lawyer for Antanas Petrošius, a Solis Tribus shareholder, who is accused of seeking to take control of and monopolise the collection of blood plasma in Lithuania and Latvia. Petrošius has also been detained by the STT.

The STT launched an investigation into the National Blood Centre's activity back in 2018 and the case has not reached court yet.

Prosecutors said on Tuesday that the lawyers and the businessman had been detained as part of their investigation into an alleged attempt to exert unlawful influence on the STT director, Žydrūnas Bartkus, and an investigator carrying out the pre-trial investigation in the National Blood Centre case.

As part of the case, formal suspicions have been brought against Petrošius and Joana Bikulčienė, who resigned as director of the National Blood Centre two years ago amid corruption allegations.

According to the latest information, Petrošius is suspected of aiding in abuse and the former director is suspected of abuse.

Danėlius recently represented Raimondas Kurlianskis, a former vice-president of MG Baltic embroiled in the country’s largest political corruption case.

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

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis in 2018 nominated Danėlius for justice minister, but Dalia Grybauskaitė, the then-president, refused to appoint him.

Threatened to use information

Later on Thursday, BNS reported that the suspicions brought against Danėlius involved his intention to use compromising information about Renatas Martišius, a criminal intelligence officer at the Special Investigation Service.

Prosecutors claim the lawyer impermissibly threatened law enforcement officers.

The lawyer is alleged to have shown the compromising material to another STT investigator, Vilija Kerbelienė, and said that "the material will be used during the judicial hearing of the case", unless the pre-trial investigation against his client, businessman Antanas Petrošius, was dropped.

Moreover, Danėlius is also alleged to have asked lawyer Valdas Rakauskas, who personally knows STT chief Žydrūnas Bartkus, to tell him about his position. The lawyer also allegedly hinted to the STT chief that the compromising information might be leaked to the media.

Prosecutors viewed Danėlius' actions as unlawful information collection and threatening a state official by using psychological violence.

Danėlius told BNS he just performed his professional duties and wanted to report improper actions by an STT officer.

Issuing this ruling, the court rejected the prosecutor's request to have Danėlius detained. The court ruled there was no evidence to base the prosecutor's position that Danėlius could destroy evidence if he remained at large.

Handed over information to a Latvian citizen?

The full content of the compromising information was not disclosed in the court ruling on Thursday, which only stated that the information involved "official activity and personal life" of the STT officer, Martišius, and contained his mobile phone messages.

Danėlius claims his information showed that Martišius could have used collected evidence improperly and had impermissible contact with a judge.

“The STT officer's alleged Viber messages with colleagues [...] show that the officer dared to enter the judge's room before a hearing and have impact regarding the suspect's detention,” Danėlius told BNS after being released on Thursday. “And also he informs the Latvian businessman who allegedly commissioned those criminal intelligence actions about the ongoing criminal intelligence actions.”

“The STT officer and his other colleague discuss possible information of the Latvian businessman, an alleged KGB cadre agent behind that criminal intelligence investigation. That's the matter,” he said.