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Lithuanian Lawmakers Allow Ruling Labor Leaders’ Fraud Trial

Dec. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Lithuania’s parliament revoked the immunity from prosecution of three leaders of the Labor Party, part of the ruling coalition formed last month, so a court in the Baltic nation may continue the lawmakers’ trial for fraud.

Parliamentarians voted to lift the immunity of party and faction head Viktor Uspaskich, First Deputy Speaker Vytautas Gapsys and Vitalija Vonzutaite of the budget and finance committee as requested by the General Prosecutor’s Office, according to the Vilnius-based chamber’s website.

Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius, who included Labor in his four-party government amid protests by President Dalia Grybauskaite, encouraged his Social Democrats to let the coalition partners stand trial. Uspaskich, a Russian-born entrepreneur, said the charges were political and were intended to eliminate him from politics.

“It’s a disgrace that this case has dragged out for six years,” Butkevicius said in an interview on Ziniu Radio before the vote. That was due to both inefficiencies in the legal system and deliberate delays by Labor, he said.

A Vilnius court is trying the three on charges of accounting fraud for the party between 2004 and 2006. The trial was interrupted when they were elected to parliament in October. Until November, Uspaskich was a member of the European Parliament, which had lifted his immunity for the same case in September 2010 and rejected his later requests to reinstate it.

“This is a political case, clearly,” Uspaskich told lawmakers today. He argued that courts and prosecutors were being used by political opponents to try to destroy him.

Of the coalition parties, only the Social Democrats supported the resolution to lift the three Labor leaders’ immunity. Lawmakers from Order & Justice, Lithuanian Polish Election Action and Labor itself voted against or abstained.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bryan Bradley in Vilnius at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at

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