The Lithuanian Court of Appeal on Wednesday changed the ruling of the court of first instance and sentenced all the defendants in a high profile political corruption case, with some of them getting prison terms.
They were all sentenced for giving and accepting bribes and influence peddling.
Raimondas Kurlianskis, a former vice-president of MG Baltic (now MG Grupe), was sentenced to six years in prison and was fined 25,000 euros, and Eligijus Masiulis, the former leader of the Liberal Movement, was issued a prison sentence of five years and six months.
Another defendant in this case, Vytautas Gapsys of the Labor Party, was also found guilty and sentenced to four years and six months.
MG Grupe, the Liberal Movement and the Labor Party were fined 1 million, 500,000 and 400,000 euros respectively.
Former Liberals Sarunas Gustainis and Gintaras Steponavicius were fined 25,000 and 20,000 euros respectively.
The Court of Appeal’s ruling enters into force immediately on the day of its publication. It can still be appealed with the Supreme Court of Lithuania.
Commenting on the ruling, Judge Albinas Bielskis said that Kurlianskis and the politicians in question had a long-standing and fairly close relationship.
“During the periods when the offences in this case were committed, systematic meetings between Kurlianskis and the above-mentioned members of the Seimas were recorded, which were usually initiated by Kurlianskis. And he did so intentionally as the meeting would take place at the time when political issues important for the MG Baltic group were being discussed by the Seimas or other state or municipal institutions,” the judge said.
According to the case materials, bribes were given to politicians both in the form of cash or donations to public establishments, and even an invitation to appear on a TV program was deemed bribery. The Court of Appeal also found that a bottle of vodka and a bottle box containing money were also bribes given to Masulis.
Steponavicius was convicted of abuse of power without any evidence of bribery.
Lithuania’s law enforcement authorities informed about the searches and arrests in the case on May 12, 2016.
On that day, Masiulis announced his resignation as leader of the Liberal Movement, and he also stepped down as an MP.
Gapsys also announced his resignation from the parliament after he was notified about suspicions brought against him by law enforcement authorities at a later stage of the pre-trial investigation, but was later re-elected.
Gustainis was expelled from the party while he was still a special witness, and he also resigned from the Vilnius City Council.
Steponavicius, who was also questioned as a special witness, also suspended his party membership and did not stand for election during the 2020 Seimas election.
MG Grupe is one of the largest manufacturing, trading, real estate and media groups in Lithuania.
Opened more than seven years ago, the political corruption case destroyed the politicians’ careers and the Liberal Movement’s chances to win the Seimas election in 2016.
Gapsys has received his second conviction after he was previously convicted in the so-called Labor Party’s fraudulent bookkeeping case.
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