Russian 13 January suspect Kotlerov can be tried in absentia, Lithuanian prosecutors say

13 January 1991
Kęstučio Svėrio nuotr.

“We now have unofficial information we are verifying. And it seems that he’s no longer in Italy. The office cannot confirm as yet that this person is in Russia. We are trying to verify information that he’s no longer in Italy,” Elena Martinonienė, head of the Prosecutor General’s Office’s Communication Department, told BNS.

She added, however, that irrespective of whether Kotlerov is handed over to Lithuania or not, his criminal case will be continued without him.

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“This person is under prosecution and will continue being so. And if the pre-trial investigation against him is finished and the case with the indictment is handed over to court, the hearing is held in absentia depending on the criminal acts he is charged with. It will not undermine the trial,” she said.

The Lithuanian LNK TV channel reported on Thursday that Kotlerov, detained in Italy in May, had been released and went missing after being placed under house arrest.

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Kotlerov, a former Soviet officer from St. Petersburg, was detained at a Milan airport on May 13 under a European arrest warrant after arriving for a celebration of his 50th anniversary.

Lithuanian prosecutors say he is suspected of five count for his alleged involvement in the attacks on the Press House and the TV Tower in Vilnius in early 1991.

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Some 14 people were killed and hundreds were injured when Soviet military units attacked the Vilnius TV tower and other objects in Vilnius in the early hours of 13 January 1991.

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