Lithuania's Interior Minister Saulius Skvernelis says a probe should be completed before condemning the border guard who shot an 18-year-old man in a chase of suspected smugglers.
Saulius Skvernelis
© DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

The minister visited the incident site on Friday, emphasizing “an actual armed war” in progress at the border. In his words, the officer had to make the decision instantly.

"It is very easy to draw the conclusions after the incident – we can have a slow analysis and evaluate the facts, however, the officer had to make an instant decision. Had he hit the tire he was aiming at, he would have received a medal for detaining the criminals. Now he made a mistake and missed the target – he faces prison. If he did nothing, he would face liability for idleness," Skvernelis told BNS.

The 18-year-old was shot on Thursday morning during Lithuanian border guard's chase of two vehicles with suspected smugglers near the Lithuanian-Belarusian border. After one of the vehicles was detained by border guards in Leipalingis, the injured person was found on the back seat and later died in hospital.

President Dalia Grybauskaitė stated that the use of weapon was redundant, dismissing the incident as "low-quality performance of our border functions."

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