Lithuania police open probe into MP Balsys drinking and driving suspicions
Vilnius police on Monday opened a pre-trial investigation into suspicions that MP Linas Balsys was driving under the influence of alcohol.
"We are collecting evidence and will interview witnesses. The start of the pre-trial investigation makes the efforts to check the information much easier. An administrative penalty is out of the question, as the breathalyzer showed more than 1.5 per mille blood alcohol level," Dainius Šalomskas, chief of the Traffic Police Unit of the Vilnius County Central Police Commissariat, confirmed to BNS on Tuesday.
The probe was opened in accordance to an article that envisages liability for drinking and driving. The MP has not been questioned, as he enjoys legal immunity. Prosecutors may have to turn to the parliament with a request to strip Balsys of his immunity.
The Vilnius police said Balsys allegedly drove his VW Caddy under the influence of alcohol on Gedimino Avenue close to the parliament building at 12:06 p.m. last Thursday, thus violating requirements of the traffic rules that ban drinking and driving.
Balsys, the leader of the Lithuanian Green Party, last Thursday agreed to blow into a breathalyzer device when asked to by journalists, producing a reading of 1.82 per mille of alcohol, and left the Seimas building shortly afterwards.
The VIP Protection Department reported the suspected drunk-driving incident to the police. It was said several hours later that Balsys was at home but refused to speak to police officers.
Balsys, a former advisor to President Dalia Grybauskaitė and a journalist, is serving his second term as lawmaker.
Earlier on Tuesday, the MP's family said that Balsys was currently under the care of doctors and those close to him. The statement asked the media "not to escalate and not to harass," and calling on politicians not to use the situation "to advertise themselves, especially through obvious slander and lies".