The move will allow the Lithuanian Court of Appeal to continue hearing the case where a court of lower instance found Uspaskich guilty of fraud and fraudulent bookkeeping and sentenced him to four years in prison.
The sentence will come into force only after the Court of Appeal’s ruling. Uspaskich denies his guilt and calls the whole process politically-motivated.
Ahead of the EP vote, Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the ALDE political group Uspaskich also belongs to, proposed sending the draft back to the Committee on Legal Affairs, stating that the case against Uspaskich in Lithuania is a political one. But the majority of MEPs rejected the proposal.
Uspaskich issued a letter to fellow MEPs ahead of the Wednesday vote, saying that he would go on a hunger strike if he lost his legal immunity. He also called the Lithuanian government “bandits” and claimed that human rights are violated in Lithuania.
Following the vote, Uspaskich told BNS he would continue his hunger strike for at least a week.
“I will continue. I have the spring session in early April and also classes. I don’t know what to do. If not for the classes, I would not stop it. I will do it until the session and then I will see. I will probably continue after the session,” he told BNS.
MEPs are also scheduled to vote once more on Uspaskich’s immunity so that he could go on trial for contempt of court.
Uspaskich gained legal immunity after officially becoming a member of the newly-elected European Parliament on July 1, 2014.