Government sacks chief vet Milius

Jonas Milius

According to the government resolution, Milius will be dismissed from his post as of October 5.

Votes of at least eight of Lithuania’s 15 ministers were needed to sack the chief veterinary officer.

“I wanted an honorable explanation of the reasons,” Milius told journalists after the government’s meeting.

He said he was not yet considering of going to court for compensations over the allegedly unlawful dismissal from office.

The chief veterinary officer said that Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius, while explaining the reasons of the sacking, had brought up his telephone conversations.

“Due to the telephone calls, especially to other countries. I have indeed called heads (of veterinary services) of Japan, the United States of America and Russia,” said Milius.

Asked about the conversations with Russians, he said he had not violated any laws.

“I called my colleague, businessmen wanted to meet and talk about the obstacles in the country and what can be done there to prevent detection of, for instance, listeria,” said the chief veterinary officer.

According to information available to BNS, prosecutors are also investigating the suspicions of impact upon officers in charge of food safety after Russia found listeria bacteria in frozen dumplings made by Judex. Russia, just as the US, apply the principle of zero tolerance for the bacteria, which is not regulated in the EU.

Subject to pre-trial investigation, the veterinary officer was dismissed after the government rejected his report of operations, which provides sufficient grounds for sacking the head of a state institution under the government law.

Milius’ suitability for the post came in question after the law-enforcement brought suspicions against him of abuse of office and document forgery. He has denied the suspicions and aimed to stay on, regardless of the calls from Lithuania’s top officials for him to step down.

Lithuanian prosecutors suspect that Judex producer of frozen food products aimed to influence the State Food and Veterinary Service via MP Petras Gražulis of the Order and Justice party to avoid penalties for violations.

Milius and Agriculture Minister Virginija Baltraitienė drew controversial reactions for participation in a dinner and hunting activity with businessmen. The suspected conflict of interests under probe by the Chief Official Ethics Commission.

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