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2014.06.13 11:46

Lithuanian Medininkai massacre was a ‘crime against humanity’ – law professor

BNS | DELFI | The Lithuania Tribune2014.06.13 11:46

(BNS) The 1991 Medininkai checkpoint massacre is “very likely to be listed as a crime against humanity,” says Justinas Žilinskas, professor at the Lithuanian Mykolas Romeris University’s Institute of International and European Union Law.

(BNS) The 1991 Medininkai checkpoint massacre is “very likely to be listed as a crime against humanity,” says Justinas Žilinskas, professor at the Lithuanian Mykolas Romeris University’s Institute of International and European Union Law.

As a specialist, Zilinskas was interviewed at the Lithuanian Court of Appeals on Thursday in a hearing of the criminal case of killing of Lithuanian customs and police officers at a custom post nearly 23 years ago. Former Soviet Special Purpose Mobile Unit (OMON) officer Konstantin Mikhailov was sentenced to life in prison for his role in attacks that left seven officers dead on 31 July 1991.

Mikhailov was found guilty of murdering the seven Lithuanian police, customs, and border officers at the Medininkai checkpoint on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border, the only suspect sentenced in person for the 31 July events. Mikhailov lodged appeals against the verdict, claiming that he is not guilty. Prosecutors demand that the crime be re-classified from murder to “crime against humanity.”

“Looking at the general context of these days, Medininkai was not the only episode – we can start counting from (the attempted coup of) 13 January 1991 or even earlier. In any case, listing it as a crime against humanity in this context seems grounded to me,” says the professor.

Žilinskas specializes in international humanitarian and criminal law, furthermore, has defended a dissertation on crimes against humanity and genocide in international law and the law of the Republic of Lithuania.

He submitted his conclusion about the Medininkai developments to the court in 2013.

The Vilnius court ruled that Mikhailov, a Latvian citizen, operated as an officer of the Soviet Union’s special function militia unit OMON headed by chief Cheslav Mlynik when he and two other officers, Andrey Laktionov and Alexander Ryzhov, committed the premeditated murder of seven Lithuanian customs and police officers. Russia has refused to extradite the three other suspects.

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