2021.03.01 09:42

Russia's prosecution of Lithuanian judges put on EP agenda

BNS2021.03.01 09:42

European lawmakers will discuss responses to Russia's ongoing prosecution of the Lithuanian judges who heard the high-profile January 13 case.

The issue has been put on the agenda of the joint March 18 meeting of the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) and Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET), Rasa Juknevičienė, a substitute member of the LIBE committee, has confirmed to BNS.

Read more: Lithuania asks NATO for help shielding its judges from Russian persecution

The meeting should be attended by the Lithuanian justice minister, as well as representatives of the Judicial Council, Prosecutor General's Office, INTERPOL, the European Commission, and Eurojust.

Last December, Russia’s Investigative Committee said that it had brought charges in absentia against the three judges of Vilnius Regional Court – Virginija Pakalnytė-Tamošiūnaitė, Artūras Šumskas and Ainora Kornelija Macevičienė – for delivering “a deliberately wrongful” sentence against Russian citizens.

In March 2019, the three judges convicted former Soviet Defence Minister Dmitry Yazov and more than 60 other former Soviet officials and military officers for their role in the military assault on Lithuanian civilians in January 1991.

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

The perpetrators were charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. The majority of them were handed prison sentences in absentia.

Lithuanian politicians have turned to EU and NATO partners in recent months for their assistance in protecting the Lithuanian judges from Moscow's ongoing prosecution.

Read more: January 13, 1991. The night when Lithuania faced Soviet troops – through the eyes of ordinary people