Lithuanian court acquits former riot police officers implicated in 1991 clashes
VILNIUS, June 4 (RAPSI) – A Vilnius court has acquitted Boleslav Makutynovich and Vladimir Razvodov, former officers of riot police special unit, who were suspected of committing crimes during clashes in 1991 after Lithuania declared independence from the USSR, RIA Novosti reported on Thursday.
Lithuania declared independence from the Soviet Union on March 11, 1990.
Moscow denounced the move as illegal and put an economic blockade on the country between April and late June.
In January 1991, a series of unauthorized protests swept across Lithuania after which Soviet military forces entered the republic. On the night of January 13, Soviet armored vehicles and tanks rolled into the center of Vilnius. Soviet troops clashed with civilians at the local TV center, leaving 14 dead and over 600 injured.
Security personnel later claimed that the clashes were a result of a provocation, and that the victims were killed by sharpshooters.
The former riot police officers, who live in Russia, were tried in absentia. Russia refused to extradite them.
The 2010 amendments to the Lithuanian law on criminal procedure allow hearing cases of serious crimes committed by foreign nationals who live outside Lithuania.
Makutynovich and Razvodov were charged with ill-treatment of individuals, inflicting grievous bodily harm, and infringing on the safety of their property.
Prosecutors demanded 12-year prison sentences for them.
The court ruled that responsibility for these crimes rests with state leaders. The crimes in question were not committed in conditions of martial law, a military conflict or occupation, when the perpetrators could have be tried in accordance with the provisions of the relevant Geneva convention, Justice Audrius Cininas told journalists.