Prosecutor’s Office Closes Investigation into Obstruction of LGL Protest

The Prosecutor’s Office has decided to discontinue the pre-trial investigation into the disruption of a protest, organized by the National LGBT rights organization LGL, which took place last year near the Lithuanian Parliament. “The fact that the responsible authorities did not find any signs of a criminal offence during the pre-trial investigation was quite unexpected,” LGL lawyer Monika Antanaitytė commented to jarmo.net portal.

The LGL protest took place in September last year. That time, representatives of the LGBT community picketed against a provision of the law that limits discussion of LGBT issues with minors.

Several dozen people gathered for the protest, but after a while counter-protesters arrived, including Petras Gražulis, a former MP, who is notorious for his homophobic statements, and Antanas Kandrotas, who is currently spending his days behind bars, better known by his nickname Celofanas.

According to LGL rally participants, the arrival of the counter-protesters interfered with the protest, damaged equipment, and created a sense of insecurity. However, the police officers who were on duty at the rally were also accused of inaction – according to the organisers of the LGBT rally, they did not take any action to ensure that the protest was not obstructed.

The fact that the officers working near the Lithuanian Parliament should have removed A. Kandrotas and P. Gražulis, who were disrupting the meeting, was later stated by the Commissioner General of the Police, Renatas Požela, who admitted that the police did not do everything they could have done, ELTA reports.

According to M. Antanaitytė, the actions of the counter-protesters were eventually referred to the prosecutors. “A number of offences have been reported, including incitement to hatred against LGBT people, threats, violation of public order and others,” she said. According to her, the law enforcement authorities were obliged to fully assess the situation and determine the constituent elements of the specific criminal offence.

“It is obvious that the actions of the counter-protesters, which included, persons well-known to law enforcement, were not seen as dangerous, the police did not respond to the LGBT protesters’ requests for help, and the protest had to be terminated for the safety of the protesters themselves, as it simply became impossible to continue in such dangerous conditions,” said the LGL lawyer.

The document of the Vilnius Regional Prosecutor’s Office, which states that a decision has been taken to discontinue the pre-trial investigation into the conflict that broke out during the gathering near the National Martynas Mažvydas Library, stresses that in case of evidence in the investigative material that some persons have committed administrative offences, the investigative material has been forwarded to the “authorised authority for the commencement of the proceedings for an administrative offence and for the drawing up of the protocols of the administrative offence”.

Antanaitytė told jarmo.net that this decision shows that the authorities do not believe that surrounding LGBT rights activists in a circle by a hostile organised group, intimidating them with wooden stakes, publicly ridiculing LGBT people, destroying the LGBT inventory, and desecrating the symbols of LGBT people, as well as disrupting a legitimate protest, were sufficiently dangerous actions.

“It is understandable that such assessment of an event by the institutions may have long-term negative consequences, such as reducing the confidence of the LGBT community in the institutions and their willingness to defend their rights. However, already during the interviews conducted during the pre-trial investigation, certain procedural shortcomings could be identified, for example, the victims were not informed about the ways and possibilities of aiding the victims” – said Antanaitytė.

According to her, the fact that the Prosecutor’s Office found that the case contained evidence of administrative offences and that the offenders will probably only pay off with fines means that the event itself will not be registered as a hate crime. “The event itself will not be classified in the official statistics either,” the lawyer regretted.

Portal Jarmo.net has contacted the Prosecutor General’s Office for comment on this situation.

The following reply was received from Elena Martinonienė, Head of the Communications Division of the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Lithuania:

The pre-trial investigation referred to in your enquiry was discontinued following an assessment of the totality of the objective, factual evidence gathered during the investigation and the conclusion that, although such conduct is not socially acceptable, is contrary to moral principles and general rules of conduct, is disrespectful, the acts identified during the investigation were not so dangerous as to constitute insolent conduct within the meaning of Article 284 of the CC and could be the subject of criminal prosecution. In the Prosecutor’s view, the use of repressive criminal proceedings, criminal law as a last resort (ultima ratio), would clearly be unjustified and excessive in this situation.

We would like to draw your attention to the fact that the termination of a pre-trial investigation does not mean that socially unacceptable behaviour goes unreported or unpunished.

If the pre-trial investigation file contains evidence that the three persons identified in the investigation have committed an administrative offence under Article 481(1) of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Republic of Lithuania, a copy of the decision to discontinue the pre-trial investigation, together with a certified transcript of the entire investigation file, shall be forwarded to the competent authority for the initiation of administrative offence proceedings and the drawing up of administrative offence reports.