Lithuanian court merges two January 13 coup trials
A Vilnius court on Wednesday decided to merge two cases of the January 13 trial into one – criminal charges against two former Soviet officers will be added to the big case heard for almost two years.
"We merged the cases that involve charges under Chapter 100 of the Criminal Code (…). The added case will be heard without the participation of the defendants," judge Ainora Kornelija Macevičienė said at a hearing on Wednesday.
She also noted that the hearing was attended by defense lawyers of two of the new defendants, former Soviet officers Vladimir Kotlyarov and Sergey Kostets.
"There are no obstacles for hearing the case," said the judge.
Kotlyarov and Kostets are represented by two state-appointed lawyers. According to the indictment, both of the defendants are citizens of Russia living in Pskov. Kostets was personally handed the summons to attend the Vilnius hearing.
Before the latest addition, the January 13 trial included 64 defendants but will now try 66 individuals. Merely two of them are present in hearings, while the rest are out of reach for Lithuania's law-enforcement.
The case on the developments of January 1991, when the Soviet Union used aggression and violence to reverse Lithuania's newly-restored independence, is considered to be one of the most significant and largest in Lithuania's history. The case consists of more than 700 volumes and over 8 00 victims. Over 26 years after the events, around 650 of the victims are still around, including 400 who were injured outside the Lithuanian TV Tower in Vilnius. About half of them – around 250 – have already testified, testimony of the diseased has also been announced in court.