For background on the summons the author received from the police, in consequence of his articles on the Holocaust in Defending History and other publications, please see earlier reports here and here. This comment has been translated from the Lithuanian by Geoff Vasil, and the final version approved by the author.
Yesterday, on July 8, 2014, I was the subject of much telephone attention from the police. This time it was from Šiauliai. They called, they got angry when I told them not to give my address out to whoever may answer first. They asked strange things. A female voice was asking what the door code was, while a male voice was interested in whether I was home at the time…
If anything was missing from this vision of absurdity, it was a warning over giving false testimony, and the question of where I keep my house keys and money… In order to ease the tension somewhat, I called the general emergency number, 112, and complained of telephone scam artists impersonating the police. They took my report, but less than an hour later kindlycalled back to inform me that it was really police officers who had called. It seems these sorts of scam artists have a license from the state to practice this sort of thing. I attempted to tell the man who called that the police are not allowed to present me a summons, accuse me of something or even question me by telephone, so why don’t they follow the normal and accustomed practice and actually send a summons to my officially registered private residential address?
I think I made my preference quite clear, but… it appears I was misunderstood. They called several times more. They tried to summon me somewhere, asked where I was, and declared that I had to be in Vilnius the following day…
But I have Samogitian blood So I am stubborn! I held firmly to my insistence on receiving a summons in writing at my home address. And I finally got one. So, I can’t say the telephone calls were entirely pointless: I was able to warn the people at work that I wouldnot be coming to work the following day.
Translation of the Document received:
The Criminal Police Department of the Sixth Police Department of the City of Vilnius of the Supreme Police Commissariat of the Vilnius District:
To Evaldas Balčiūnas
You are summoned as a special witness for questioning to the Criminal Police Department of the Sixth Police Department of the City of Vilnius of the Supreme Police Commissariat of the Vilnius District, located at No. 20 Buivydiškių street of Vilnius, at 9 A.M. on July 9, 2014, to inspector Eglė Tučiuvienė in office No. , telephone number 869886391. You are to carry on your person an identification document.
Those summoned but failing to appear without a reasonable excuse before a pre-trial investigator, prosecutor or court, based on article 142 of the criminal trial code of the Republic of Lithuania, may be brought in by force. Those summoned to take part in a process but failing to appear without an important reason, based on article 163 of the criminal trial code of the Republic of Lithuania, may be fined up to 30 minimum [monthly] incomes.
The document is interesting if only for the reason that it contains the word “police” three times and the word “Vilnius” twice, apparently so that I would sense the magnificence of the institution sending it. Also interesting was the telephone number of the office whither I was summoned: this is the number that called me last week on July 4 [report here].
Also interesting was the status I was assigned — a “special witness.” I found out what that means on the website of the prosecutor’s office:
Section 1 of article 80 of the criminal trial code provides for the possibility of a person who may be able to provide testimony on his own possibly criminal actions during the stage of pre-trial investigation to be interrogated as witness if he consents to it.
So that means they will be questioning me about my own actions and will possibly try to force me to give testimony against myself? I considered getting my affairs in order before serving a long term in prison… But then things brightened a bit as I read on:
The person may also not agree to be questions as a special witness. In that event this is recorded and confirmed by the person’s signature on the prosecutor’s finding. Before interrogation, the prosecutor or pre-trial investigator along with other rights, duties and responsibilities must explain to the special witness that:
— it is forbidden to compel or force someone to provide testimony against himself;
— a person may only be questioned as a witness of his own possibly criminal acts by his own consent.
The aforementioned witness must also be told about:
— [his] right to have an authorized representative during interrogation
— the right to be recognized as a suspect;
— the non-applicability of forceful pre-trial measures in response to failure to appear before a pre-trial investigator, prosecutor or court, and in response to refusal or avoiding giving testimony;
— about the non-application of [legal] accountability for giving false testimony.
I discovered these legal recommendations for law-enforcement officials was signed by former prosecutor general Algimantas Valantinas.
If the document of that prosecutor’s office is still binding, then the investigator attempted to pull the wool over my eyes: she probably thought she would frighten me with the statement of bringing me in by force, and my lack of desire to travel to Vilnius constantly would lead me to tell her whatever she wanted to know about me, and possibly more…
Whatever the case, this summons is either a legally unprofessional bluff, or an illegal act attempting to acquire testimony through illicit means.
The Kafkaesque trial with the Soviet-era recidivists continues.
And we await the next installment.