Over 150 witnesses questioned in Lithuania’s Jan. 13 coup case

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Over 150 witnesses questioned in Lithuania’s Jan. 13 coup case

In this photo taken on January 13, 1991, a Lithuanian demonstrator stands in front of a Soviet Red Army tank during the assault on the Lithuanian Radio and Television station in Vilnius.

VILNIUS – More than 150 witnesses have been interviewed in the January 13 attempted coup case in the Vilnius court, the Prosecutor General’s Office said.
Prosecutors of the office’s Criminal Prosecution Department in charge of the probe, all victims or their representatives who have appeared in court hearings have already been heard. Witness interviews are currently in progress.
The main case of the 1991 coup case was handed to the Vilnius court on Aug. 31 of 2015, with the criminal case of other defendants handed to court on July 3 2017. The court merged them and now hears them as one.
In the case, charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes were brought against 67 individuals, all citizens of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus who at the time held top positions in the Soviet Union’s communist party, ministries of defense and interior affairs, the State Security Committee (KGB) and paramilitary units of the institutions.
Two defendants are present in the courtroom, while the rest stand the charges in absentia, as they are hiding from justice abroad.
The prosecutors said this was the first case in Lithuania with all investigation materials digitized. The decision was taken to make the proceedings simpler and because of the historic value of the documents. The prosecutors received assistance from the central state archives, which restored more than 1,500 archival documents that were in very poor condition.
The pre-trial investigation was conducted by a task force of three prosecutors of the Criminal Prosecution Department of the Prosecutor General’s Office and an officer of the Lithuanian Criminal Police Bureau.
Fourteen people were killed in early hours of Jan. 13 of 1991 when Soviet units stormed the Vilnius TV Tower and the Radio and Television Committee Building in an attempt to overturn Lithuania’s legitimate administration.
Lithuania’s Criminal Code envisages life in prison for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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