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Published: 16 november 2012 11:25

Lithuanian court adjourns Labour Party's case hearing

V.Uspaskichas teisme
Sauliaus Chadasevičiaus/15min.lt nuotr. / V.Uspaskichas teisme

Vilnius Regional Court was scheduled to hear the Labour Party's fraudulent bookkeeping case on Friday. However, the hearing had to be adjourned as both lawyers of one of the defendants, Vitalija Vonzutaitė, failed to show up.

The court was informed that her lawyer, provided by the state, had suffered an injury, while her private lawyer had to attend another court hearing.

Prosecutor Saulius Verseckas agreed that the case could not be continued due to the absence of the two lawyers, and the court was adjourned until Monday.

Meanwhile Viktor Uspaskich, leader of the Labour Party and an MP-elect, asked the court to make a break as he wanted to fulfill his rights and duties and be sworn in as an MP.

Prosecutor Verseckas proposed to the court to consider turning to the Seimas for cancelation of legal immunity for Uspaskich, Vonzutaitė, and MP Vytautas Gapšys, another defendant in the case.

"Doubts on the continuity of the criminal process will be raised if they are sworn in today and get legal immunity," the prosecutor said.

Judge Daiva Pranytė-Zalieckienė adjourned the hearing until Monday until the defendants' legal status is officially known.

The new Seimas is holding its first sitting on Friday. Uspaskich is reported to have renounced his MEP mandate and should be sworn in as member of the Lithuanian Seimas. The other two defendants, Vonzutaitė and Gapšys, will be also sworn in.

Earlier this week, Vilnius Regional Court started reading materials in the Labour Party's criminal case consisting of over 150 volumes of documents.

On 26 October, the Prosecutor General's Office charged the Labour Party's leader MEP Uspaskich, incumbent MP Vytautas Gapšys and MP-elect Vitalija Vonzutaitė as well as the party's former accountant Marina Liutkevičienė with fraud. The more serious charges were brought on the eve of the second round of voting in the Seimas elections after prosecutor Saulius Verseckas decided to re-qualify previous charges.

The defendants in the case were earlier charged with providing incorrect information on the party's income, profits, and assets to state institutions in order to avoid taxes.

Following the re-qualification, the statute of limitations will go up from eight to ten years (starting in 2006), and potential punishments will be stricter.

Prosecutors say the Labour Party's financial documentation for the 2004-2006 period failed to include about LTL 25 million (EUR 7.3 million) in income and about LTL 23 million in spending related with property, commitments, and structural changes, and also failed to pay taxes of around LTL 4 million.

Uspaskich strongly denies all charges.

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