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Published: 27 february 2012 14:29

Premier Andrius Kubilius urges his Minister to correct mistake in sacking FCIS chiefs

Andrius Kubilius, Raimundas Palaitis
BFL/Tomo Lukšio nuotr. / Andrius Kubilius, left, and Raimundas Palaitis

Lithuania's Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius urged Interior Minister Raimundas Palaitis to return the two sacked top officers of the Financial Crimes Investigation Service to their posts.

"I believe that the mistakes should be corrected and I believe that the decisions the minister has made should be revoked, the officers should get back their access to classified information and return to work," Kubilius told journalists at the government on Monday.

The prime minister said the information received from Palaitis and the State Security Department gave him an impression that "the dismissal of the FCIS was hasty and not based on clear reasons."

Kubilius also said that "public concerns in this case were entirely grounded," also criticizing the move of special services to classify the documents that informed the sacking.

"In the documents related with the FCIS top officers that I have, I do not see anything classified – no operational data, no classified methods of work. It sometimes seems to me that the classified label is put for the sole purpose of making such documents look more impressive. Decisions concealed as artificial secrets will never look fair," the prime minister said.

A few hours before the prime minister's comments, the interior minister Palaitis said there were no opportunities of reinstating the sacked heads of the Financial Crimes Investigation Service. Asked whether he trusted the minister, Kubilius said he was not considering the issue at the moment: "I'm not considering this now, it depends on the conduct, understanding, mistakes made and the ability to correct them."

Palaitis dismissed two top officials in charge of financial crimes investigation, director Vitalijus Gailius and his deputy Vytautas Giržadas, on 15 February due to the information received from the State Security Department, which had conducted an investigation in response to the prosecutor general's request into leak of information about Snoras bank. The minister had earlier revoked Gailius and Giržadas' access to classified information.

Nevertheless, the Prime Minister and Parliament Speaker Irena Degutienė said they had received no information that would support any doubts over the Financial Crimes Investigation Service leaders' fitness for the posts. President Dalia Grybauskaitė then said the minister followed the law when he dismissed the two officers.

Violates separation of powers

By proposing reinstating the sacked chief of the Financial Crime Investigation Service, Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius violates the principle of separation of powers, Algis Čaplikas, a member of the ruling Liberal and Center Union, has said.

"With his statement today that the Minister of Interior should reinstate the FCIS chiefs who lost trust, the Prime Minister violates the principle of separation of powers. Justice in Lithuania is executed by courts and not the government. So, the minister cannot do something a judicial process is launched on," Čaplikas said on Monday.

Čaplikas believes the head of the government publicly expressed doubt in credibility of the state institutions – the State Security Department, structures of the Ministry of National Defense, the Prosecutor General's Office and the Presidential Office.

"Such a position of the prime minister towards the state is unacceptable," leader of the liberal centrists said.

Asked whether the party will remain in the ruling coalition, Čaplikas said he will be able to answer this question following a meeting with the prime minister and a meeting of the party's board, both expected to take place soon.

Čaplikas regretted that talking about the FCIS chiefs' dismissal people forget the fact that its related to the bankruptcy of Snoras bank. In his words, the Snoras investigation is being caried out by joint forces of prosecutors, the FCIS and the State Security Department.

"If there's distrust in any of the people in that chain, can they really continue investigating such a serious case?" Čaplikas said.

Threat to entire cabinet

Amid growing tensions within the ruling coalition over the past week, resignation of Palaitis from the ministerial post is also being considered. The coalition has also discussed whether the whole cabinet should then return its mandate. According to the Constitution, the government should get a new mandate from the Parliament after replacing half of its ministers.

Since the government took office in the end of 2008, six of its 14 ministers have been replaced. Nevertheless, there is no consensus on whether seven ministers is the crucial limit, as the number of ministers was 14 at the time the government was set up, the Energy Ministry was established later. Furthermore, one minister was replaced before the presidential elections and therefore before the government received its mandate.

Under the Lithuanian Constitution, ministers are appointed and dismissed by the President with proposal from the Prime Minister.

Lithuania's ruling Coalition for Changes includes three parties, namely, Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, Liberal Movement and Liberal and Center Union.

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