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2012.11.28 10:50

Lithuanian parliament sets up panel to consider revoking legal immunity of Labour MPs

15 min.2012.11.28 10:50

Lithuania's parliament set up a commission which will draft a resolution on the parliament's consent to allow prosecution of Labour Party MPs Viktor Uspaskich, Vytautas Gapšys, and Vitalija Vonzutaite.

Lithuania's parliament set up a commission which will draft a resolution on the parliament's consent to allow prosecution of Labour Party MPs Viktor Uspaskich, Vytautas Gapšys, and Vitalija Vonzutaite.

Headed by Andrius Mazuronis of the Order and Justice party, the commission will include 13 members and will have to submit its conclusions by 21 December. The proposal to set up the commission was supported by 117 parliamentarians, two were against, and three abstained.

The opposition Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (conservatives) objected the designation of Labour Artūras Paulauskas as deputy chairman, proposing instead Liberal Remigijus Šimašius for the post. However, parliament rejected the bid.

The conservatives resented the inclusion of representatives of the Labour Party, which is on trial as a legal entity, into the panel and the long time-frame allowed for its work.

"First of all, I cannot understand how it is possible to include Labour members into the commission. The Labour Party is on trial, and the party's members will decide over the immunity of people who are their bosses," conservative MP Kęstutis Masiulis said.

Another conservative MP Rasa Juknevičienė expressed indignation over appointment of the Labour Party's Paulauskas as vice-chairman, accusing the Social Democrats of dodging responsibility by designating new parliamentarians to the panel instead of politicians who have served in earlier tenures.

Earlier on Tuesday, Deputy Prosecutor General Darius Raulušaitis asked the Seimas to lift the legal immunity of the three MPs and sanction their prosecution.

The deputy prosecutor general presented some case materials at Tuesday's meeting, saying that Uspaskich, Gapšys, and Vonzutaitė were charged with organizing fraudulent bookkeeping as top officials at the party in the 2004-2006 period. The party failed to include about 25 million litas (EUR 7.3m) in income and about 23 million litas in spending related with property, commitments, and structural changes, and also failed to pay taxes of around 4 million litas.

Under the Seimas Statute, parliament is to take an hour break after hearing the prosecutor's speech and then set up an ad hoc commission, which hears the prosecutors and the parliamentarians up for termination of immunity before proposing a draft resolution on satisfaction of the prosecutor general's request.

Should the draft resolution envisage satisfying the prosecutor general's motion, it can be adopted by half of Lithuania's parliamentarians.