Lithuania’s Constitutional Court refuses to rule on Labour MP’s impeachment

Vytautas Gapšys
DELFI / Mindaugas Ažušilis

In April, the Lithuanian parliament, Seimas, decided to launch impeachment proceedings against Vytautas Gapšys after he was convicted for doctoring his party’s account books. Gapšys argues that he should keep his seat, because the conviction concerns actions committed before his election to parliament.

Opposition MPs then turned to the Constitutional Court, asking for a ruling on the case.

In its finding, the Constitutional Court said it could not rule on the actions Gapšys did before taking his MP oath.

The court also said that impeachment could be started on “evidence of a crime”, but this does not automatically mean that Gapšys breached the oath or grossly violated the Constitution.

Gapšys, a member of the Labour Party’s political group, says he is not surprised at the court’s decision not to hear the parliament’s case for his impeachment.

“The finding is what was to be expected on the legal side. I said back then that, from the legal point of view, violation of oath was out of the question, if you had not taken an oath at the time,” Gapšys commented on Tuesday.

The impeachment procedure was launched by conservative MPs, following the ruling handed down by the Lithuanian Court of Appeals in February which found Gapšys guilty of bookkeeping fraud. He has already paid a fine of €3,600.

The Labour Party and Gapšys insist that impeachment is not possible, because the crime in question was committed prior to his becoming an MP. The Court of Appeals’ ruling is in connection to Gapšys 2005-2006 operations – he was not an MP at the time.

The Court also handed guilty verdicts against the Labour Party’s founder Viktor Uspaskich and former financial officer Marina Liutkevičienė in bookkeeping fraud. However, Uspaskich, Gapšys and Liutkevičienė were cleared of fraud charges.

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