Lithuanian Lawmakers Allow Ruling Labor Leader’s Fraud Trial
Lithuania’s parliament revoked the immunity from prosecution of the leader of the Labor Party, part of the ruling coalition formed last month, so a court in the Baltic nation may continue the lawmaker’s trial for fraud.
Parliamentarians voted 86-29 today with 15 abstentions to lift the immunity of Viktor Uspaskich as requested by the General Prosecutor’s Office, according to a broadcast on the Vilnius-based chamber’s website. The motion required 71 votes in the 141-member legislature to pass.
Premier Algirdas Butkevicius, who included Labor in his four-party government despite protests by President Dalia Grybauskaite, encouraged his Social Democrats to let the coalition partners stand trial. Uspaskich, a Russian-born entrepreneur, insisted the charges were political.
“It’s a disgrace that this case has dragged out for six years already,” 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.
Separate votes on revoking the immunity of two other Labor members, First Deputy Speaker Vytautas Gapsys and Vitalija Vonzutaite of the Budget and Finance Committee, are scheduled for later today. A Vilnius court is trying them together with Uspaskich on charges of accounting fraud for the party between 2004 and 2006.
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