The Lithuanian defense minister had no grounds to suspend Colonel Audronis Navickas, a former Lithuanian Air Force commander, from his duties during an investigation into plans to send military helicopters to Russia for repairs, the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court ruled on Friday.
Former Air Force Commander Colonel Audronis Navickas
© Augustas Didžgalvis

The court annulled the defence minister's decision of Nov. 22, 2016 on the colonel's suspension from his duties as Air Force commander.

"There were no legal and factual grounds for the appellant's suspension," Judge Marius Bajoras told BNS.

"The court made this conclusion because at the time the contested order was issued the applicant was neither suspected of committing a disciplinary offense nor named a suspect or an accused in a criminal case," he said.

The same court on Jun. 12 closed the colonel's case as he had already been reinstated in his post. It also stated that the case did not fall within the competence of an administrative court. A higher court, however, overturned this ruling.

The Defence Ministry has said that Navickas failed to enforce the Defence Resource Council's decision, made in February 2016, not to repair military helicopters in Russia.

Navickas earlier this year was reinstated in his post only to be dismissed shortly afterwards. Lithuanian Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis has dismissed him from professional military service

The Defence Ministry said that the decision to discuss the Air Force commander was based on military intelligence information that he had "belittled" the defence minister and the chief of defence and sought to discredit the national defence system.

The process of sending Mi-8 helicopters to Russia for an overhaul was cleared by several high-ranking defence officials before it was stopped at the last stage in 2016.

The Foreign Ministry says that helicopter repairs in Russia would have run counter to the European Union's decisions on sanctions against Moscow and to Lithuania's foreign policy.

Dainius Guzas has replaced Navickas as the Lithuanian Air Force commander.

Leave a comment
or for anonymous commenting click here
By posting, you agree to terms
Read comments Read comments

Lithuanian, US, NATO battalion troops test new firing range in Pabradė

Lithuanian and American troops as well as soldiers from the Lithuania-based international NATO...

NATO jets in Baltic scrambled once to intercept Russian plane

NATO fighter jets, stationed in the Baltic states as part of the NATO air policing mission, were...

US Army deploys tanks, IFVs to Lithuania for training

The US Army's Abrams tanks and Bradley infantry fighting vehicles were on Friday transported to...

Defense Ministry moves to lower upper age limit for conscripts to 23 years (Updated)

The Lithuanian Defense Ministry proposes to lower the upper age limit for draftees for mandatory...

Croatia to rejoin NATO battalion in Lithuania in 2 years

Croatia plans to rejoin NATO 's multinational battalion in Lithuania in two years' time, the...