bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Sunday 19.05.2019 | Name days: Sibilla, Teika, Lita
LithuaniaLithuania

Lithuanian law enforcers bust high-profile judges and attorneys

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(+1 rating, 1 votes)

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

 

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

In an unprecedented move yet, Lithuania’s law enforcers busted this week what it may be an organised, yet impenetrable until now ring of the country’s some A-tier judges and lawyers. Some of the big names have deliberated high-profile legal cases implicating some of Lithuania’s most heinous criminal gangs.

Lithuania’s Prosecutor General’s Office reported on Wednesday morning that, in total, 26 persons, including eight judges and five attorneys, were handcuffed and indicted on charges of corruption, influence peddling and bribery. The prosecutors allege that the suspects accepted around 400 thousand euros in bribes which were used to get a favourable judiciary decision.

The prosecutors hint that the detained judges and lawyers knew each other well and that not only the professional activity linked them but also the shared leisure interests, like hunting, for example. As a rule, they would hide their clandestine liaisons from others, even from their closest colleagues and family members. According to the officials, the incriminated judges would especially shun their younger colleagues at courts – namely young-generation judges sanctioned the arrests. The suspects, the prosecutors say, were wiretapped for «quite some time» before their apprehension.

Although the detained judges boasted very good reputation, however their detentions did not come as a surprise to some of their fellow judges.

For example, Kažys, a judge of the Lithuanian Court of Appeal, and who is said to be one or the most affluent judges in Lithuania, has deliberated many high-profile legal cases involving notorious contrabandists and criminal ring member. Notably, to astonishment of many of his colleagues and the public, he has freed some of them when no one expected it. Specifically, the judge released from jail notorious drug dealers from the so-called Lapinai criminal ring. He did so after his counterparts from lower-tier courts ruled the criminals posed real threat to the public.

So far, heads of Lithuania’s law enforcement agencies are very reluctant to give any details on the ongoing pre-trial investigations.

Grilled by a host of the popular TV programme Dienos tema on Wednesday night, neither Žydrūnas Bartkus, head of the Special Investigation Service, STT, nor Evaldas Pašilis, the Prosecutor General, or Algimantas Valantinas, a prominent judge and chairman of Lithuania’s Council of Courts, said anything concrete about the scandal that seems to devastate the country’s judiciary system, as many other possible revelations on the judges’ and on other, yet unindicted judges’ malfeasances are likely yet to follow.

«We however need to respect presumption of innocence,» cautioned Pašilis.

According to Bartkus, the STT top man, around 100 home and office searches were carried out and detention of the judges and the lawyers required unparalleled secrecy and a smooth synchronisation of the law enforcers’ efforts. He accentuated STT carried out «the largest operation in the service’s history», with over 100 officers in it involved. Bartkus said bribes were paid for decisions in administrative, civil and criminal cases, also including the high-profile case of the Vijūnėlė Manor, behind which stands Ričardas Malinauskas, mayor of Druskininkai, a resort in southern Lithuania.

Valantinas regretted the blow to the country’s judiciary system and pondered it can have long-term consequences for it.

«It is bad that some of legal cases reach court only after three or four years since the inception of a legal process…I hope this time we will see a different story,» Valantinas said.

The TV programme guests did not speculate if the detained persons acted in a coordinated criminal ring.

Among the detained persons were three judges of the Lithuanian Court of Appeal, Viktoras Kažys, Konstantinas Gurinas and Valdimaras Bavėjanas, Supreme Court judge Egidijus Laužikas, Vilnius Regional Court judge Henrichas Jaglinskis, Vilnius Regional Administrative Court judge Arūnas Kaminskas, Gintaras Čekanauskas, a judge from the Regional Administrative Court of Regions, Chamber of Kaunas, and also Vilnius City District Court judge Robertas Rainys. All of them are suspected of various corruption crimes, including bribery, influence peddling and abuse of office.

The detained lawyers include Drąsutis Zagreckas, Romualdas Mikliušas, Giedrė Cimbolienė, Aivaras Surblys and Marius Navickas.

On Thursday morning, most of them were brought handcuffed to Vilnius courts and arraigned.

Among the persons brought to one of Vilnius courts was Vilius Karalius, a notorious large-scale contrabandist who is suspected of influence peddling on judges.

Lithuania media wrote that he shunned bars in the past and speculate that his close relative who happens to be judge has helped him to evade jail.

Loreta Brazdienė, president of the Vilnius Regional Court, was quoted by Lithuanian media as saying that an investigation into corruption involving judges has shaken the whole judicial system.

In her words, the information about the investigation involving eight judges «raised very serious questions» about judicial morality.

«The priority of our judicial community is intolerance towards corruption and the degradation of the judge’s name, so the information we received from the media has really shaken the whole judicial system,» she said on Wednesday.

«Not only the letter of the law, but also judicial morality is important for ensuring justice, and today we are facing very serious questions. We’ll see, we are monitoring the situation but, nevertheless, the key priority will be intolerance towards corruption,» she said.

She noted that Vilnius Regional Court judge Henrichas Jaglinskis, one of the suspects in the case, is one of the most experienced judges hearing civil cases, and she has never seen anything suspicious about his behaviour.

Weighing in on the detentions, Lithuania’s Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said that the prosecution launched against eight judges shows that the times of untouchables in Lithuania have ended.

In his words, the investigation is also sending a signal that there are serious problems in the Lithuanian judicial system and they need immediate solution.

«The times of untouchables have ended. Everyone needs to learn this lesson, including politicians, civil servants, judges and heads of medical establishments. We are seeking zero tolerance for corruption in the state, and persons who have covered up with strong party roofs and used the provided authority for their own benefit and not for the benefit of the state need to face justice,» the prime minister posted on Facebook.

«I would like to thank the services for their courage. I know that the Prosecutor general’s Office and the Special Investigation Service will do their job but the fact judges from the Lithuanian Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, Vilnius Regional Administrative Court and other courts are suspected of corruption, influence peddling and abuse of office shows the scale of the problems we are facing,»  prime minister said.

Although some of the judges are suspected of having accepted five-digit bribes, their public asset declarations are modest, showing the value of possessed property under 100 thousand euros. Some of the judges have pointed out in their asset declarations that they owe money to banks and even natural persons.


Leave a reply

  1. Zerry says:

    Next will be Latvia

  2. Mike says:

    It is horrible to see this happening in a EU member state, not somewhere in Russia

Privatization Agency: Latvian Railways chairman is baselessly speculating about privatization

«A lot of speculations and incorrect statements containing the word ‘privatization’ are coming from Latvian Railways (LDz) board chairman Edvīns Bērziņš. He is trying to divert attention in his corporate conflict away from the company board’s relations with shareholders,» BNN was told by Privatization Agency (PA) board chairman Vladimirs Loginovs.

BNN summary of the week: shadow over Latvia's economy; Kalnmeiers receives bashing

The week passed in Latvia under certain unpleasant news. A study concluded that in spite of Union of Green and Farmers minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola’s praised tax reform the grey economy proportion in Latvia has increased.

Court enforces 1 000 euros from Ušakovs for Riga City Council deputy

Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court has declined suspended Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs plea against Riga City Council deputy Vilnis Ķirsis over supposedly offensive statements the latter made against the plaintiff.

Latvian minister proposes re-assessing prosecutor general’s professionalism

Latvia’s Justice Ministry has noticed signs that suggest Prosecutor General Ēriks Kalnmeiers is not fit to remain in his post, as there are suspicions regarding his reputation, Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns told journalists on 17 May.

Estonia’s Nordica ended 2018 with EUR 2 million in losses

Estonia’s national air carrier registered considerable losses in 2018, reaching EUR 2,3 million in unconsolidated losses.

U.S.-pardoned whistle-blower Manning sent back to prison

A United States grand jury has ordered back to confinement Chealsea Manning, the former American military intelligence analyst, who spent seven years in prison in a Wikileaks-related case before being released by the decision of former U.S.

International police effort dismantles GozNym gang of cyber criminals

An international criminal network that used GozNym malware in an attempt to steal an estimated USD 100 million from more than 41 000 victims, mostly businesses and their financial institutions, has been dismantled in a joint police operation.

Prediction: Latvia’s new concert hall will recover investments in 15 years

In the first 15 years after construction of Latvia’s new National Acoustic Concert Hall it will earn Latvia’s national economy a total of EUR 107.6 million, fully compensating investments and creating additional profits of EUR 17.6 million.

Poland fights child abuse with prison sentences up to 30 years

Polish legislators have extended prison terms for convicted paedophiles to a maximum 30 years. The Catholic country’s child abuse scandals have been underscored by a new documentary on such crimes by Polish priests.

Money intended for child protection used instead to pay bonuses to officials in Latvia

Welfare Ministry’s allocated state budget funding of EUR 619 000 was used, among other things, to pay bonuses to officials for obvious everyday tasks even though initially it was implied that employees of the ministry and State Child Protection Inspectorate (SCPI) would perform some specific tasks to prevent child and family abuse.

Meteorologists promise air temperature will soon reach +26° C in Latvia

On Friday, 17 May, there will be plenty of sun and clouds. Western regions may experience some rainfall. Wind will draw in from the east, reaching 13 m/sec in Kurzeme, as reported by Latvia’s State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Construction commences in Estonian-Latvian 3rd interconnection project

By raising the first supports of the new high-voltage Estonian-Latvian 3rd interconnection, Latvia’s Augstsprieguma tīkls (AST) has commenced the next step in the high-voltage power line project for a new 330 kV power line from Riga TEC-2 all the way to Kilingi-Nõmme substation in Estonia, as confirmed by AST.

Riga Tourism Development Bureau may have caused damages worth EUR 300 000

As a result of criminal activities Riga Tourism Development Bureau has caused damages worth no less than EUR 300 000, according to initial estimates.

Tribunal of European «Islamic State» fighters to be discussed in Sweden

Seeking an international tribunal of the fighters of the «Islamic State» terrorist group following its defeat in Syria, Sweden has invited other European countries to discuss ways to persecute fighters from Europe.

Latvia supports North Macedonia’s accession to NATO

On Thursday, 16 May, Latvia’s Saeima supported North Macedonia’s joining of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as confirmed by Saeima’s press-service.

Ventspils City Council stumbles and indirectly admits – Lembergs does breach his security measure

The suspended chairman of Ventspils City Council Aivars Lembergs breaches the court-sanctioned security measure – prohibition to perform duties as mayor – because he regularly represents the city council and provides his opinion to Ventspils City Council’s portal ventspils.lv, BNN has concluded after reviewing the ruling of Liepaja District Court.

Latvian airBaltic and Scandinavian SAS establish cooperation

Latvian airline airBaltic has concluded a cooperation agreement, known as a code-share agreement, with Scandinavian Airlines. Partnership between airBaltic and SAS will offer convenient connections between Latvia, Scandinavia and beyond, airBaltic representatives say.

Latvian parliament to ease post-mortem organ donation procedures

Residents in Latvia will be able to permit using their bodies or organs after their death by making a specific entry in the e-health system. This is provided by amendments approved by the Saeima in the final reading on 16 May to the law that governs the use of a dead person’s tissue and organs in medicine.

Vilnius prospects dim unless it clusters with Kaunas, says investment expert

In the eyes of mayor investors, Vilnius’ prospects remain dim if it does not agglomerate. An investment expert suggests that the Lithuanian capital should expand and merge to an extent with Kaunas, the country’s second-largest city.

Video: European Spitzenkandidaten debate key EU issues in Brussels

What do to the leading candidates of each political group of the European Parliament stand for? Watch their debate in Brussels.

Riga Tourism Development Bureau’s manager is released from police custody

Riga Tourism Development Bureau’s board chairperson Vita Jermoloviča has been released from State Police holding facility in Čiekurkalns, as news portal lsm.lv was told by Jermoloviča’s lawyer Raivo Klotiņš.

State Audit warns – situation with use of development funding critical in Latvia

A critical situation has emerged in Latvia in relation to planning and use of development funding, as concluded by State Audit in its annual report on correctness of institutions’ accounts for 2018.

Not OK. France’s Le Pen after Estonia visit asks to delete controversial selfie

Marine Le Pen, the founder of French right-wing National Rally party, has visited Estonia to meet with the Conservative People's Party of Estonia. Following the meeting, she has asked an Estonian MP to remove a joint photo showing a sign increasingly perceived as a white supremacist gesture.

Latvia's prime minister meets with Estonian colleague; discuss important topics

Latvia’s Prime minister Krišjānis Kariņš said during his meeting with his Estonian colleague Jüri Ratas on May 15 that the two countries that the two countries have very positive and friendly relations. It is important for Latvia and Estonia to implement regional energy and transport projects together, representatives of Latvia’s prime minister say.

Justice can wait; Latvia’s Saeima puts off vote on deputy’s criminal prosecution

On 15 May, Saeima’s Mandate, Ethics and Submissions Committee agreed to give deputies time to go through materials of the case and make up their minds on whether or not to permit criminal prosecution of Saeima deputy Atis Zakatistovs (KPV LV) during the 5 June meeting of the parliament.

Newest comments