Defendants in a mass trial related to the bloody events of Jan. 13, 1991 in Vilnius must be given severe prison sentences and pay over 11.3 million euros in damages in a civil lawsuit, public prosecutors from the Prosecutor General's Office said on Monday.
Vilnius, January 13, 1991
© Virgilijus Usinavičius' photo

"The crimes were committed in a publicly dangerous manner; there are no mitigating circumstances. The conclusion is that they have to be punished with severe imprisonment," Daiva Skorupskaitė-Lisauskienė told the Vilnius Regional Court.

Skorupskaitė-Lisauskienė and Prosecutor Gintautas Paškevičius also say that the defendants, who now live in Russia, Belarus and other countries, must be ordered to pay over 11.3 million euros in damages in a civil lawsuit to compensate for the treatment of the wounded, the funeral expenses of the victims, the construction of memorials, allowances for the victims' children, and payments to people disabled as a result of the crackdown on civilians, etc.

"Damage to the state was caused by deliberate criminal acts by the accused," Skorupskaitė-Lisauskienė told the court.

The public prosecutors are about to complete delivering their statements in what is one of the most significant and largest cases in the history of Lithuania's law enforcement and will shortly propose specific punishments for the 67 defendants in the trial.

The charges include treatment of persons prohibited under international law, killing, causing bodily harm to, torture or other inhuman treatment of persons protected under international humanitarian law, carrying out a prohibited military attack, and using prohibited means of warfare.

The Lithuanian Criminal Code envisages severe punishments for such crimes, from five years in prison up to a life sentence.

Those charged in the case include Mikhail Golovatov, a former KGB officer, and Vladimir Uskhopchik, a former commander of the Soviet Army's Vilnius garrison, as well as several former high-ranking officials of the Lithuanian Communist Party, and others.

Only two of the defendants -- Russian citizens Gennady Ivanov and Yuri Mel -- are present in court. All others are hiding in Russia or Belarus and are tried in absentia.

Fourteen civilians were killed and hundreds more were wounded when the Soviet troops stormed the TV Tower and the Radio and Television Committee building in Vilnius in the early hours of Jan. 13, 1991.

Six persons were sentenced to imprisonment in the January 13 case back in 1999 for founding anti-government organizations and other crimes. The case regarding war crimes and crimes against humanity moved forward after the parliament adopted certain legislative amendments on trial in absentia.

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