Lithuanian prosecutors to propose sentences against 66 defendants in 1991 crackdown trial
Public prosecutors from the Lithuanian Prosecutor General's Office on Tuesday started delivering their concluding statements in a mass trial related to the bloody events of Jan. 13, 1991 in Vilnius.
It will take around two weeks for the prosecutors to deliver their statements. It will become clear then what sentences they seek against 66 defendants in the trial.
The charges include treatment of persons prohibited under international law, killing, causing bodily harm to, torture or other inhuman treatment of persons protected under international humanitarian law, carrying out a prohibited military attack, and using prohibited means of warfare.
The Lithuanian Criminal Code envisages severe punishment for such crimes. For example, a person convicted of treatment of people prohibited under international law may face a prison sentence of five to 20 years, up to a life sentence.
Those charged in the case include former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, former Soviet Defense Minister Dmitry Yazov, and Vladimir Uskhopchik, former commander of the Soviet Army's Vilnius garrison, as well as several former high-ranking officials of the Lithuanian Communist Party, and others.
There are a total of 66 defendants in the case, but only two of them -- Russian citizens Gennady Ivanov and Yuri Mel -- are present in court. All others are hiding in Russia or Belarus and are tried in absentia.
Fourteen civilians were killed and hundreds more were wounded when the Soviet troops stormed the TV Tower and the Radio and Television Committee building in Vilnius in the early hours of Jan. 13, 1991.