On Wednesday, a Vilnius court will open hearings into the case surrounding the 13 January 1991 attempted coup, which is one of the biggest trials in Lithuania's history in terms of the size and the number of suspects.
A photo from the January 13 events
© K.Svėrio nuotr.

The trial includes nearly 500 victims and about 1,000 witnesses. The case consists of 709 volumes, including a 13-volume indictment. The defendants will be defended by over 60 lawyers.

As the Vilnius County Court does not have the premises to accommodate all of the parties in the proceedings, the hearings will be broadcast live to the hallway next to the courtroom, the court said.

The 65 defendants in the trial face charges of treating people in a way that is prohibited by international law, murder of persons protected by the international humanitarian law, injury of persons protected by the international humanitarian law, torture and other inhumane treatment of people or violation of their property, prohibited military attacks, and the use of prohibited military measures.

Defendants living abroad have been notified about the hearings by the Ministry of Justice , with additional summons sent to their places of residence. The defendants have also been informed that their decision to attend the hearings will lead to the suspension of European Arrest Warrants against them with a guarantee of unimpeded entrance to Lithuania and travel within the country, said the court.

According to the Liteko judicial information system, charges in the January 13 trial have been brought against former KGB officer Mikhail Golovatov, the Soviet Union's former defense minister Dmitriy Yazov, former commander of the Soviet army's Vilnius garrison Vladimir Uskhopchik, the Lithuanian Communist Party's former 2nd secretary Vladislav Shved, and former secretary of the Lithuanian Communist Party's central committee, Algimantas Naudžiūnas, and scores of other individuals.

In the early hours of 13 January 1991, the Soviet Union's military units attacked the Vilnius Television Tower and the Radio and Television Committee Building, killing 14 unarmed civilians.

In 1999, six persons were sentenced to jail terms after being convicted of establishing anti-state organizations and other crimes, namely, Mykolas Burokevičius, Juozas Jarmalavičius, Juozas Kuolelis, Leon Bartoshevich, Stanislav Mitskevich and Jaroslav Prokopovich. Mitskevich fled Lithuania.

BNS
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