Read this and you will understand, what does it mean “justice” in “democratic” and “independent” Lithuania
He was accused of murder. He was beat, tortured, taunted. He nevertheless stated ” I did not commit murder. He is now free. And now as then he firmly says: I did not commit murder!
On 11 March 1996 businessman Valdas Arbataitis was cruelly murdered in Panevėžys. In the evening when V.Arbataitis came to his garage by his car “Subaru Legacy” he was suddenly attacked, cruelly beat, the car was stolen. Later the burnt car was found in Pasvalys region. The started case of V.Arbataitis murder continued for several years. Three Panevėžys citizens Evaldas Gritėnas, Valentinas Goris and Arūnas Augėnas were justified by some courts, and accused by other courts. The public prosecutor Gintautas Sereika who investigated this case and was himself murdered a year ago, seeked for the criminals to be punished. The Court of Appeals recognized E.Gritėnas, V.Goris and A.Augėnas guilty. The latter was punished with the sentence of 12 years of imprisonment. Although, on 30 November last year the extended chamber of justices of Criminal Cases Department of the Supreme Court of Lithuania recognized A.Augėnas as not guilty and ruled out all the incriminated accusations. A lot of inaccuracies were found in the case, there was no proof that the hair found in the place of crime was that of A.Augėnas, and that there is blood of V.Arbataitis on his clothes. “To immediately set free Arūnas Augėnas from the place of imprisonment”, – this was the sentence signed by the chairman of the chamber V.Masiokas.
Two months ago A.Augėnas returned to Panevėžys and lives with his wife and two children in the village near the town. The man 32 years of age confirms to be not guilty and lives surrounded by the condemn of people. He states that up to this day not guilty persons are imprisoned, and the murder of V.Arbataitis is free. Feeling himself as injured party and willing to rehabilitate himself A.Augėnas is preparing to defend his rights in the Strasburg Committee on Human Rights. LÅ½ decided to listen to the confession of A.Augėnas.
“Before I was made a criminal I was a man, father of two children, earned for living. One day on my way home from the town by car I was stopped by the police, they took my documents. I asked what the matter is. “You are required by the officers”, they answered sharply. They took me there and outright beat. And said: “why did you follow the car?” I did not understand what they are talking about. Only later I understood that the talk was about the car of R.Lipeikienė, which is the same as that of V.Arbataitis. As if I followed it. They investigated me and set free. A few days later the officers came and took my clothes. A few days later they took me to lockup. Then it all started …
At night I rest, during the day I cry. Yowl. Four five men in turns beat me. I could not bear it, I cut me veins. In order to call medical personnel and to tell somebody what is going on here. The prosecutor G.Sereika came and said: “This is a closed circle, why do you cry. If you want we will give you a rope”.
On 13 May officers of criminal service of Panevėžys took me somewhere. They put a sack on my head, my hands were cuffed on my back. Here we go. Looking though a small hole I understood that we are going towards Rokiškis. After we passed Kupiškis we stopped near the creek. The execution started.
They asked where the car is. At that moment the car of V.Arbataitis was not found yet. They started to shoot. Drank bear. Various taunts. Hey, they say, he does not speak. They took me to the insulator of Rokiškis Police Department. There I spent three weeks without any sleep. They investigated me in turns. Two come in the morning, two more come in the evening. I sit fastened with handcuffs to the chair, they put a sack on my head and beat. By sticks, hands, feet. I fall and stand up again. Fall unconscious, they slash me with water and beat again. They drink spirit up to driving mad.
When my patience ended I hit one of them. Once they said: “Let us throw him from the window and kill him”.
I was frightened, grabbed a leg of the table. G.Sereika came, I told him: “You know that I am not guilty”. And he said to me: “Such is life”. The only officer of the criminal service Mažeika did not beat me. It is horrible to remember that I suffered twenty one day and night without any sleep. Hallucinations started. Various kinds of legs come from the typewriter, crows fly before my eyes. And they keep asking, where the car is, where the car is.
They show me large photos of V.Arbataitis corps. You murdered, you murdered. They injected some medicine, I relaxed in half an hour. I cried and shook. The whole body puffed up. I asked the nurse to call a doctor. I heard the prosecutor Šichavcovas saying: “In case of death leave in place”. I could not confess because I was not guilty. I understood perfectly the outcome of confession, also I could not because this would be betrayal of my family. My wife trusted me. I can honestly look the mother of V.Arbataitis in the eyes because I did not murder her son. I am not a murder. I would like very much to meet her, talk to her, only I do not know if she wants it. I did not know her son and on the day of the murder I was at home as we celebrated the birthday of my daughter. A lot of guests could prove this.
There are a lot of various unclear details in the case. Is it possible to recognize a driver in the dark who goes very fast? For identification the witness was provided with purposefully enlarged photos of V.Goris. Who are those secret witnesses ” different “plums”, “pears”? The hair found in the place of crime is without bulbs. Is it possible to tear up such short hair as mine. It was not proved that the blood of the murdered was found on by clothes. I was horrified by the work of the court medical experts. They were not able to identify the blood group, saliva, who the owner of the footwear is. They discussed that the hair, blood or footwear could belong to A.Augėnas or V.Goris. G.Sereika declared that IV group blood was found on the knuckleduster. We stay imprisoned, stay, the time of imprisonment ends. The prosecutor asks to extend the time of imprisonment due to repeated expertise of knuckleduster. The answer from experts came that the whole blood was used for the primary expertise. Then the prosecutor makes inadmissible mistake ” provides blood not packed, not insulated and sealed. Takes to Vilnius together with the case. When the judge A.Japertas in Panevėžys asked the court medical expert Švilpa, why this case was necessary, he answered that he wanted to make sure that his conclusion was correct. Although, in the Court of Appeals he denied his words. I can also tell more because I studied well the accusations provided to me, but I know one thing ” we are really not guilty. The prosecutor G.Sereika tried to make us murders. The judge A.Japertas told that the three of us is a chain of proofs. I was taken from this chain. What is left? What are the proofs? Whose hair is it? Whose blood? I think that V.Goris is imprisoned because he went by V.Arbataitis car, and E.Gritėnas confessed because he did not bear the torture. Later E.Gritėnas told us why he did not bear it. He was too young to bear such torment. Can you think of the feelings sitting behind the grating in the court hall. Telling straight forward ” shit. You look at everyone and know that you cannot take out and show your heart.
You ask me what is the price of freedom? I cannot tell the sum as lawyers are not cheep nowadays. I have nothing. No health ” cannot see well, the heart beats, I cannot sleep at night. I have one desire ” to leave Lithuania and forget everything. On 29 April last year the proceedings of the Court of Appeals occurred. The courts of Lithuania is a big prostitution, and the investigation ” even bigger. At court none listened to me. One of the judges drowsed, the other two talked. May be they had hangover, as the same persons were caught drinking at work. I stood up for my speech. Determinately made a pause, said to myself, may be they will hear me. My heart felt that I will be imprisoned. The judges went away to write the sentence. I said good bye to my wife. I looked through the window, the convoy came. The end. I spent nine months in Pravieniškės. Compared to my torment in Rokiškis this was a paradise. Clearly, peeled potatoes were given only when commission came. Other days we were fed as pigs. The convicted has no rights in prison, it is purposeless to appeal somewhere. If you try to clear out things ” you are in “hold”, more talks and you will spend half a year in “būras”. When I leaned that I will be set free, I went out as I stood. I took only the album and letters. It is very hard for me to live as you cannot explain to every elderly woman that I am not guilty. I now fear for any of my neighbours dying even natural death. I will be guilty. Everyone quibbling who is not lazy. Once road police stopped me in Šiauliai. They said: look, this is the same Augėnas. Punished me. I will try to prove that I am not guilty. A lot of courts will come, but I do not want to have any matters with Lithuanian law enforcement. I have one desire ” to disappear from Lithuania as soon as possible”.
Zina Paskeviciene, “Lietuvos zinios”, 2000
P.S. At the mean time A.Augenas lives in Ireland. “I will never ever come back to Lithuania, where any prosecutor can put you into the prison and make a “murder” from you”, – A.Augenas said to “Hot Commentary”.