PM to look into justice minister's suitability Tuesday

Saulius Skvernelis

Lithuania's Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says he would meet with employees of the Justice Ministry's Audit Division on Tuesday and afterwards decide on the possibility of embattled Justice Minister Milda Vainiutė to continue in the post.

"Today I and the minister did not discuss her possibilities to work or not work, we have a working meeting tomorrow where we will discuss the minister's operations and future," Skvernelis told journalists on Monday.

He emphasized that Vainiutė had launched changes in the prisons system and started solving them, noting he had no information about the ministry's top officials making political pressure upon employees about the audit of the prisons system.

"We will meet with her tomorrow to see whether she can work, whether there were manipulations or not," the prime minister added.

In a news conference last week, Rasa Kazėnienė, an employee of the Justice Ministry who had earlier worked at the Kaunas remand service, said Justice Vice-Minister Raimondas Bakšys had put a halt on her proposal to turn to the law-enforcement in the investigation in connection to the Pravieniškės penitentiary. Kazėnienė said the justice minister was present at the meeting where Bakšys silenced the initiative. Meanwhile, Bakšys said he just wanted to wait for the audit to be completed, so that the investigations did not intervene with the processes. The vice-minister categorically dismissed the accusations, however, stated he could not continue under the circumstances and submitted resignation earlier on Monday.

The press conference about possible interference with the audit of the Prisons Department was initiated by Skvernelis' anti-corruption adviser Skirmantas Malinauskas. He had pledged to step down, if Bakšys continued in the post.

The prime minister said he would also analyse the actions of his adviser.

"I see this as an outstanding strife and passion to bring more transparency to the processes at the Prisons Department and to fight corruption. On the other hand, the method he has chosen is absolutely inadequate. I see this as lack of experience as an official of political appointment. Such issues should not be addressed in this way at a news conference," said Skvernelis.

Source: BNS
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