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Published: 20 june 2013 18:07

Former OMON commanders to be tried in absentia for war crimes in Lithuania

Bylos nagrinėjimas
Šarūno Mažeikos/BFL nuotr. / Bylos nagrinėjimas

Boleslav Makutinovich and Vladimir Razvodov, two former commanders of the Soviet Special Purpose Militia (OMON) in Vilnius, will stand trial in absentia for war crimes in Lithuania, prosecutors have said.

"I think the case will be handed over to Vilnius Regional Court next week," Alvydas Valiukevičius, a prosecutor of Vilnius Regional Prosecutor's Office, told journalists on Thursday, adding that the indictment would be translated into Russian and sent to both defendants.

Lithuania is also taking measures to ensure rights of the accused and has appointed state lawyers to represent them in court as they have not hired private lawyers themselves.

"Based on evidence we have, the accused are trying to evade the process," Valiukevičius said.

Prosecutors say they have finished the indictment and established 16 episodes, including assaults against officers at border checkpoints, weapon seizure, inflicting injury upon people, and shooting.

"In January-August of 1991, they committed criminal acts against newly-formed institutions, border services, customs post of the Republic of Lithuania. They carried out attacks, seized assets, used violence against officers, and violated state symbols," the prosecutor said.

According to the Prosecutor General's Office, Russia has refused to extradite Makutinovich and Razvodov and has not responded to a request for legal assistance to inform the accused about their right to get acquainted with the case against them.

"The accused will be tried in absentia, which is allowed in a case of war crimes and crimes against humanity," the Office said in a statement.

39 individuals are named victims and civil claimants in the case.

14 people were killed during an attempt by the Soviet army and special forces to take over Vilnius TV Tower on January 13, 1991, and more than 1,000 unarmed civilians were injured. Seven police and customs officers who guarded the border of Lithuania, then unrecognized by the Soviet Union, were killed at Medininkai border checkpoint in July 1991.

On July 31, 1991, seven officers were shot and killed during an attack on Medininkai border checkpoint where the officers were guarding the border of Lithuania, still unrecognized by the Soviet Union at the time.

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