bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Tuesday 24.04.2018 | Name days: Nameda, Visvaldis, Ritvaldis
LithuaniaLithuania

Lithuania paves way for special prosecutors in political corruption cases

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

The Lithuanian legislature, Seimas, has voted with support of 78 MPs, four against and 22 abstentions for a set of amendments to the Law on the Public Prosecutor’s Office. The changes envision that, starting from July 2018, political corruption cases in Lithuania will be investigated by prosecutors with special powers and immunity and all prosecutors will get a pay raise from mid-2018.

Political corruption spans corruption crimes committed by the heads of public authorities, politicians and judges.

The amended law stipulates that special prosecutors will enjoy higher protection than their colleagues, including immunity from criminal prosecution, and will report directly to the Prosecutor General, the deputy Prosecutor General or the head of a department of the Prosecutor General’s Office. Special prosecutors will also be paid extra for their work.

The amendments were passed amid prosecutors’ growing dissatisfaction with what they believe is their insufficient legal protection in cases involving legal immunity holding high-ranking suspects.

Prosecutors have long clamoured for higher salaries and threatened to leave prosecution offices if their demands are not satisfied.

«Today we are waiting for adoption of the law amendments. Depending upon the MPs’ voting, we will decide whether to remain in the prosecutorial system or not,» Gintas Ivanauskas, prosecutor from the Prosecutor’s General office addressed the Seimas’ Law Committee members before the voting.

With the sweeping support in the Seimas for the prosecutors’ demands, Milda Vainiūtė, Justice Minister rejoiced that the amended law will be a «necessary tool» in fighting corruption in the country.

The amended law foresees though that prosecutors have to agree to take on status of special prosecutor. Only Prosecutor General would be entitled to grant it or annul it.

A series of factors, including the prosecutor’s skills, experience, specialisation and perseverance in high-profile cases, will be considered when granting it.

«When case is in court, no prosecutor requires any protection, as the law and the case itself protects him. However, problems emerge with the litigation over-no prosecutor can be sure thathe or she will not be dismissed or that not fail the certification,» Artūras Urbelis, prosecutor, said.

A couple of high-profile political corruption scandals have rattled Lithuania over the couple of last years.

In late September, Lithuania’s Special investigation service (STT) have brought suspicions of corruption against Lithuania’s Liberal Movement and the Labour party.

According to STT, the Liberal Movement is suspected of wide scale bribery and influence peddling.

The Special Investigation Service alleges the party’s chairman Eligijus Masiulis has taken a bribe of more than 100,000 euros on behalf of the party from Raimondas Kurlianskis, vice president of MG Baltics, a mega-size Lithuanian company, in exchange for political decisions.

In response, the party’s leaders called the suspicions to the party unjustified and politically motivated.

This week, Vilnius prosecutors have sent the country’s Central Electoral Commission some new information about suspected illegal funding of the Lithuanian Liberal Movement’s parliamentary election campaign, the Prosecutor General’s Office.

The news release comes as a pre-trial investigation in the political corruption case is drawing to a close.

Law-enforcement officials say they have established that the Liberals’ 2016 election campaign was partially financed from funds of Laisvės Studijų Centras (Centre for Liberty Studies), a think-tank whose founders include the Liberal Movement’s former leader Eligijus Masiulis and his deputy Gintaras Steponavičius, but give no details.

Officials earlier this year provided the Central Electoral Commission with some information amid suspicions that the Liberal Movement’s campaign might have been funded through a training course organized for the party’s members by Taikomosios Politikos Institutas (Institute of Applied Politics). The election watchdog subsequently deprived the party of a six-month state grant of almost 400,000 euros for grossly violating the funding rules.

In May 2016, the Lithuanian Labour Party’s First Vice-Chairman Vytautas Gapšys was charged with corruption accusations following a search of his home and office at parliament by the Lithuanian Special Investigation Service, STT.

The agency said it suspected the afore-mentioned Kurlianskis of influencing members of the ruling Labour Party, via Gapšys, to work for the benefit of the concern in exchange for bribes. Kurlianskis was detained but was freed over the course.

Amid suspicions of bribery and influence peddling in Lithuania’s largest case of political corruption, Kurlianskis, who is also board chairman of LNK group and MG Baltic Media, announced earlier this week resignation from the concern and plans to sell 2.34 percent of MG Baltic Investment shares to Mockus, the chief shareholder, and leave all positions in the concern by January 1, 2018.

Kurlianskis said the decision was due to the need to focus on the upcoming judicial proceedings.

Although residents of Lithuania still think that many areas in the country are badly affected by corruption, the past few years marked a significant decline in the number of cases they faced corruption, shows the latest Eurobarometre survey released this month,

According to the Eurobarometre survey, 24 percent of those polled in Lithuania specified that corruption had an impact on their daily life, however, merely 8 percent said they had seen or faced any cases of corruption over the past year, which is a decline by 17 percentage points from 2013 – this is the sharpest change in the European Union (EU).

Notably, merely 19 percent of Lithuanians said financing of political parties was transparent, which is the 6th lowest figure across the EU.

At 34 percent, Lithuanians were also the top EU nation to say they knew someone who had accepted a bribe.

Asked to specify the areas that they thought featured corruption, many Lithuanians mentioned the health care sector (79 per cent), political parties (64 per cent) and officials issuing construction permits (61 per cent).

Meanwhile, the majority of Lithuanian companies think that corruption is wide-spread in Lithuania, but only one-fifth of them consider it to be a problem when doing business, showed another latest Eurobarometre survey released in December.

Eighty percent of companies surveyed in Lithuania say that corruption is widespread in their country, compared with 76 percent in Latvia and 52 percent in Estonia.

Ref: 111.111.111.5383


Leave a reply

Ušakovs invites colleagues from Russia to attend centenary festivities in Riga

Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs has invited mayors from 56 cities to attend festivities organized for Latvia’s centenary. This includes mayors of Moscow and St. Petersburg, as confirmed by Ušakovs’ press-secretary Laila Ivāna.

Estonian President sees no return from e-governance

Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid has discussed with Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, the Baltic country's experience in providing public e-services to the population.

Norway interested in developing cooperation with Latvia in tourism industry

«Latvia welcomes successful regional and economic cooperation with Norway. Our countries have common values and goals – developing Baltic and Nordic countries as a wealthy and secure European region,» said Latvia’s Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens during his meeting with Norwegian State Secretary for Trade, Industry and Fisheries Roy Angelvik.

Finland not to continue its basic income scheme

The basic income scheme in Finland that has been tested in the Nordic country since 2017, will not be continued as the Finnish government has decided to look into other schemes for reforming the Finnish social security system

MEP: New Unity may be in the government with other parties that have similar goals

After Saeima elections, New Unity will cooperate with parties prepared to work with the association to accomplish specific goals, says leader of New Unity and member of the European Parliament Krišjānis Kariņš.

Canada experiences tragic attack on pedestrians in Toronto

In the Canadian city of Toronto, a driver has been driving onto pedestrians taking the lives of 10 people and injuring 15 more.

Latvian residents spend an average of EUR 81 on cosmetics every year

Latvian residents spend an average of EUR 81 on cosmetics every year, which is one of the lowest indexes in Europe. Compared to other Baltic States, Latvian residents spend less money on cosmetics, according to data compiled by Latvian Cosmetic Manufacturers Association.

Armenian Prime Minister Sargsyan resigns unexpectedly

The Prime Minister of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, has unexpectedly stepped down from office after ten days of protests in the Armenian capital Yerevan.

Baltic Express: Europe has already invented the bicycle; we just have to adopt it

13 March marked a historic event for Ventspils railway hub – for the first time in the history of Latvia’s railway a private cargo carrier – Baltic Express – delivered wagons to Ventspils 1st station and private infrastructure’s railway terminal. Why is this event so important and what is the future for Latvia’s cargo railway system? – Baltic Express chairman Māris Bremze told ventspilnieks.lv.

Reduction of employees in state administration went the smoothest in finance sector

Measures to reduce the number of employees in state administration last year went the smoothest for the State Revenue Service and the entire finance sector, said Latvia’s State Chancellery’s Director Jānis Citskovskis.

Alleged Paris terrorist Abdeslam convicted of attempted murder

The lone Paris attacks' suspect Salah Abdeslam has been found guilty of attempted terrorist murder of police, when taking part in a shootout with police in the Belgian capital Brussels in March 2016.

Rail Baltica’s infrastructure management model to be studied by British company

On 8 November 2017, RB RAIL joint Baltic company announced the winner in the tender for the study of Rail Balica’s infrastructure management model. The winner was British design, engineering and project management consulting company: Atkins and SNC-Lavalin Group.

Harmony and UGF have their sponsors, whereas Sudraba’s party relies on donations

Since the beginning of the week, Latvia’s political parties have received more than half a million euros in donations and membership fees. According to the database of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau, pockets fill up the fastest for political parties in power in the country and Riga.

Chemical weapons investigators have taken samples in Doma, Syria

In Syria, the scene, where according to the UK, U.S. and France, an attack with chemical weapons was conducted earlier in April, has after delays been visited by inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, who have managed to collect samples.

Estonia and Finland to share patient data over innovative «secure» data highway

The Estonian-developed international data exchange technology X-road, said to be hacker-proof is to be the basis for a new Estonia-Finland system of linked doctor prescription registers that would make prescriptions issued in one country available in pharmacies in the other.

Prime minister: Linužs’ dealings with offshore business warrants an investigation

Latvia’s Transport Minister Uldis Augulis refused to comment on information reported by De Facto programme one week ago – that Rail Baltica organized Andris Linužs had signed a deal with an offshore company based in Seychelles and used by influential businessmen from St. Petersburg. Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis, on the other hand, told the programme that «deals associated with state security had been recorded in the past and represent a matter that warrants an investigation».

Afghanistan hit by tragic terror attack

In Kabul, Afghanistan, a suicide bomber has killed not less than 57 people and injured 119 more as the attack with explosives targeted a queue of people outside a voter registration centre, Afghan officials have stated.

Armenia mass protests continue as opposition leader Pashinyan detained

In Armenia, mass protests against ex-President Serzh Sargsyan being elected as Prime Minister, have continued over the weekend marking over a week of protests in the capital Yerevan.

Weather in Latvia to be cold; air temperature to rise at week’s end

This week will be slightly colder for Latvia. Rain is expected in almost all regions every day. It will start getting warmer on Saturday and Sunday, when daytime air temperature is expected to rise again, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Week in Lithuania. Economists, trade unions cautious about tax, pension reform plans

Lithuanian economists and trade union officials say that the government's planned tax and pension system reform unveiled on Monday, April 23, will lead to a rise in wages, but will not help drastically curb emigration.

BNN summary of the week: prime minister without solutions; birth rates down; organic food rules

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Change; Growth; Business; Assessment; Fight; Future.

Economy Ministry: producer prices will affect dynamics of raw material prices

Producer prices in industry will grow in 2018 similarly as they had in 2017. Producer price level is largely affected by fluctuations of raw material prices in the world, as noted by Latvia’s Economy Ministry.

PUC: Gaso’s separation from Latvijas Gāze was legal

After examining documents submitted by the transmission system’s operator, the Public Utilities Commission concluded that activities performed by AS Gaso as part of reorganization of Latvijas Gāze were sufficient to ensure compliance with requirements for independence, as reported by PUC representatives.

Industrial producer prices in Latvia up 3.5%

Compared to February, level of producer prices in the Latvian industry rose by 0.2 % in March 2018. Prices of products sold on the domestic market grew by 0.1 %, but prices of exported products went up by 0.4 %.

Municipality: after meeting in summer, British Steel refused to buy KVV Liepājas metalurgs

After the meeting that took place at the end of August 2017, British Steel, which had previously voiced an interest in KVV Liepājas metalurgs, refused to purchase the bankrupt company, says Liepaja City Council chairman’s advisor for public relations matters Andrejs Rjabcevs.