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Vilnius Regional Court on Thursday cleared former commanders of the Soviet special militia unit OMON, Boleslov Makutynovich and Vladimir Razvodov, of war crimes and crimes against humanity in 1991.
Lithuanian court clears former OMON officers of crimes against humanity charges
© Vida Press

The court has ruled that only state leaders are held responsible for aggression. Moreover, under international law, conviction for crimes against humanity is possible only in cases when the crimes were committed during a war or occupation.

Both defendants now reside in Russia and were tried in absentia as Russia has refused to hand them over to Lithuania.

"There was no war situation in 1991, nor an armed conflict or occupation. And there were no condition that fall under the Geneva Convention," Judge Audrius Cininas told journalists.

The ruling can be appealed with the Court of Appeals within 20 days.

The former OMON commanders were accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Lithuania in 1991 when 14 people were killed and over 1,000 civilians injured during an attempt by the Soviet army and special forces to take over the Vilnius TV Tower on January 13, 1991. Seven police and customs officers who guarded the border of Lithuania, then unrecognised by the Soviet Union, were killed at Medininkai border checkpoint in July of the same year.

BNS
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