"Twenty-four years ago, seven officers guarding the Lithuanian border were murdered in Medininkai. These men, sons and fathers, lost their lives for the right everyone of us have to live in a free Lithuania. Their sacrifice puts us under the obligation of professing the truth, defending our freedom and enhancing independence," President Dalia Grybauskaitė said.
Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius, in his turn, emphasized that criminals should answer for the brutal crime they committed, as both Lithuania and the rest of the world need justice, the government said in a press release.
In early hours of July 31, 1991, seven officers were shot and killed in cold blood at Medininkai border checkpoint: Mindaugas Balavakas and Algimantas Juozakas (officers of the rapid response team ARAS), Juozas Janonis and Algirdas Kazlauskas (traffic police officers), Antanas Musteikis and Stanislovas Orlavičius (customs officers). Customs officer Ričardas Rabavičius uffered a head injury and died in hospital on August 2.
The only survivor, customs officer Tomas Šernas, suffered severe brain damage and became disabled.
Lithuanian prosecutors qualify this crime as a crime against humanity. Russian citizens Cheslav Mlynik, Andrey Laktyonov and Alexander Ryzhov are named suspects in the case. Russia refuses to extradite them to Lithuania.
The only person who has been sentenced for this crime is Latvian citizen and former Soviet OMON officer Konstantin Mikhailov who was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Vilnius court in the spring of 2011. He and the prosecutors later appealed, as Mikhailov denies his guilt and the prosecutors want him to be sentenced for crimes against humanity.