The General Prosecutor’s Office of Lithuania received an answer from the General Prosecutor’s Office of Belarus on the request for extradition of General Vladimir Uskhopchik.
The reply of the Belarusian General Prosecutor’s Office says Lithuania wouldn’t receive assistance in the case of January 13. The second request to perform appropriate procedures in relation to suspect Vladimir Uskhopchik and Stanislava Juonene was sent to Belarus in autumn 2009.
“The negative response of Belarus can’t change our legal estimation: the actions against freedom defenders in Lithuania in January 1991 are a crime. These actions fall under criminal responsibility not only in Lithuania but also in other EU countries,” ru.DELFI.lt quotes Lithuanian prosecutor Algimantas Kliunka.
According to Kliunka, the Belarusian prosecutors repeated their position: actions by the suspects are regarded in accordance with the USSR law, effective at that time, as an intention to defend the constitutional system and the territorial integrity of the Soviet Union, so the prosecutor’s office cannot render legal assistance in this case.
Besides, according to the agreement on legal assistance signed by Lithuania and Belarus, extradition of Belarusian citizens or procedure actions against them is impossible.
“Fulfilling Lithuania’s request in this case would contradict fundamental principles of the law of the Republic of Belarus,” the letter says.
The General Prosecutor’s Office reminds that the case relating the events on January 13 was finished and brought to the court on June 19, 1996. Convictions on indictment were passed in respect of Mykolas Burokevicius, Juozas Jermalavicius, Juozas Kuolelis, Leonas Bartosevicius, Stanislovas Mickevicius, and Jaroslavas Prokopovicius. On February 19, 2008, the European Court of Human Rights took a decision to dismiss complaints by Burokevicius and other convicted in the case and stated the Lithuanian prosecutors and courts hadn’t contradicted legal norms and human rights during trials.
As charter97.org has earlier reported, in 2009, Alyaksandr Lukashenka told in an interview to the Lithuanian newspaper Lietuvos Rytas that he had been among the people supporting independence of Lithuania, but the chairman of the Supreme Soviet and Reconstituent Seimas of Lithuania Vytautas Landsbergis criticizing the head of Belarus was forgetting about that.
“Do you know where Lukashenka was in the hardest historical moment when there were shots in Vilnius? In Vilnius, in the Supreme Soviet. We have been making our way through barricades to the Supreme Soviet, to Vytautas Landsbergis, to express solidarity. We want peace in Lithuania,” Lukashenka said.
Notice of charter97.org: General Vladzimir Uskhopchik has been on wanted list of the Lithuanian procuracy for many years for involvement to civilians’ massacre. In January 1991 Uskhopchik was a commander of Vilnius garrison, and his soldiers killed fighters for independence of Lithuania.
Vitautas Landsbergis, a former chairman of the Supreme Council of Lithuania, gave the court recorded phone talks with Uskhopchik, when he was threatening to use force. Landsbergis many times stated that “General Uskhopchik was an active participant of January events, he was in command of Vilnius garrison, and on his order tanks and armoured personnel carriers attacked unarmed civilians”.
Starting from 1992, representatives of the prosecutor’s office of Lithuania, regularly demanded Belarusian authorities to extradite Uskhopchik. But instead of surrendering the suspect to the authorities of the country in which he is charged with commitment of numerous crimes, including grave ones, Alyaksandr Lukashenka appointed Uskhopchik deputy defense minister in May 2004. On February 23, 2004, he awarded General Lieutenant Vladimir Uskhopchik with the Order for Service to the Homeland of the First Class.