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Published: 31 july 2012 11:44

Lithuania commemorates anniversary of Medininkai border checkpoint massacre

Medininkai
VSAT nuotr. / Medininkai border checkpoint

On Tuesday, Lithuania is marking 21 years since the massacre at the Medininkai checkpoint on the border with Belarus. The Prosecutor General's Office said it was continuing efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice for crimes against humanity.

The events to mark the massacre will take place in Vilnius and the Medininkai checkpoint. A service will be held at the Vilnius Cathedral in the morning, followed by respects paid to the victims at the Medininkai memorial and Antakalnio Cemetery in Vilnius.

Seven officers were shot and killed during the attack in early hours of 31 July 1991, namely, Mindaugas Balavakas and Algimantas Juozakas (officers of the Special Division ARAS), Juozas Janonis and Algirdas Kazlauskas (officers of the traffic police), Antanas Musteikis, Stanislovas Orlavičius and Ričardas Rabavičius (customs officers). Rabavičius died in hospital on 2 August of severe injuries. The only survivor, customs officer Tomas Šernas, suffered severe brain damage and became disabled.

Prosecutors say they are investigating the crime under Article 100 of the Criminal Code, i.e., treatment of human beings in a way that is banned by international law – crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Up until July 2011, suspects Cheslav Mlynik, Andrey Laktionov, and Alexander Ryzhov were charged with premeditated murder of Lithuanian officers in their posts.

Last year, Prosecutor General Darius Valys sent new European Arrest Warrants to the prosecutors of the Russian Federation in connection to the three suspects in the Medininkai massacre.

Currently, the prosecutors are translating and examining the large amount of materials received from Latvia in response to a request for legal assistance.

A Vilnius court in spring of 2011 found Latvian citizen Konstantin Mikhailov (formerly Nikulin) guilty of complicity in the killing and sentenced him to life in prison.

Lithuania's Court of Appeals is hearing appeals from prosecutors, Mikhailov and his lawyers. Prosecutors want him sentenced for graver crimes, i.e., crimes against humanity, while Mikhailov pleads not guilty and wants to be acquitted of all charges.

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