Vilnius court resumes 1991 crackdown trial, to open Soviet officer Kotlyarov's case in October
The Vilnius Regional Court on Monday resumed, after a break of more than two months, proceedings in a mass trial over the January 13, 1991 bloody events in Vilnius with testimonies from victims of the Soviet military crackdown on pro-independence demonstrators.
The court on October 4 is scheduled to start hearing a separate part of the January 13 case, in which two men -- Vladimir Kotlyarov and Sergei Kostets -- have been charged in absentia with treatment of persons prohibited under international law and with war crimes. That part of the case was handed to the court last July.
Kotlyarov, a former Soviet officer from St. Petersburg, was detained at Milan Malpensa Airport in May 2014 when he arrived to Italy to celebrate his 50th birthday. The suspect disappeared after the measure of restraint was changed from detention to house arrest.
Stefano Maria Taliani De Marchio, who served as Italy's ambassador in Vilnius at that time, was summoned to the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry over Italy's decision to drop to the January 13 suspect's extradition case.
According to Lithuanian prosecutors, the former paratrooper of the 76th airborne division in Pskov is suspected of committing criminal acts outside the Press House building and the TV tower in Vilnius.
Neither defendant has tried to contact the court and shown any interest in the case.
The trial of the January 13 case, which involves more than 60 defendants and over 800 people formally recognized as victims, at the Vilnius Regional Court has been going on for more than a year and a half now.
Fourteen civilians were killed and hundreds more were injured as a result of Soviet military actions outside the Press House, the TV Tower and the Radio and Television Committee building in Vilnius in the early hours of January 13, 1991.