The Lithuanian prosecutor’s office on Wednesday arrested several judges and lawyers suspected of receiving bribes, in the the biggest corruption scandal to hit the Baltic country in history.
“Twenty-six people were arrested today, including eight judges and five well-known lawyers,” Attorney General Evaldas Pasilis told the press, without specifying who the other suspects were.
The Lithuanian press however is reporting that among those arrested are Judges Viktoras Kazys, Konstantinas Gurinas and Valdimaras Bavejanas of the Lithuanian Court of Appeals, Judge Egidijus Lauzikas of the Lithuanian Supreme Court, Judge Henrichas Jaglinskis of the Vilnius Regional Court, Judge Arunas Kaminskas of the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, Judge Gintaras Cekanauskas of the Chamber of Kaunas of the Regional Administrative Court of Regions, and Judge Robertas Rainys of the Vilnius City District Court.
Five lawyers were also among the 26 detained.
They are suspected by the prosecution of having received bribes ranging from one thousand to one hundred thousand euros, in the context of several criminal, civil and administrative cases.
“The state has suffered a lot of damage. It’s not just about the amount of alleged bribery, but the fact that trust in the justice system has been undermined,” Pasilis said. Lithuania’s anti-corruption agency, the Special Investigation Service, said it was conducting more than a hundred searches across the country, in an unprecedented operation.
Its leader Zydrunas Bartkus said the cases revealed in this investigation included decisions on the release of suspects and prosecution for corruption. The judges involved are all veteran magistrates with between twenty and thirty years of experience.
Lithuania’s Prosecutor-General said Prosecutor he would seek to review some verdicts issued by the judges, according to Reuters.
“If the suspicions are confirmed, it will show that high salaries do not necessarily lead to strong integrity, and the courts will have a hard time regaining public confidence,” said Sergejus Muravjovas, head of Transparency International in Lithuania.