Lithuania has set up a new working group to continue an investigation into crimes allegedly committed by Soviet servicemen against Lithuanian citizens in January 1991.
Last week, the Lithuanian parliament passed amendments to the Criminal Code that would facilitate the prosecution of foreign citizens accused of serious crimes on the Lithuanian territory and hiding from justice abroad.
"The new amendments will give the [Lithuanian] courts the possibility to conduct trials and pass sentences against these suspects in absentia," the country's Prosecutor-General's Office said on Wednesday.
The so-called January Events occurred in the capital, Vilnius, in January 1991 when Moscow attempted to overthrow the Lithuanian government after the Baltic country proclaimed its independence from the Soviet Union.
From January 8-9, several special Soviet military units, including paratroopers of the 76th Airborne Division based at Pskov, were flown to Lithuania to capture key strategic facilities.
On the night of January 13, Russian troops moved to downtown Vilnius in an attempt to capture the TV tower and clashed with crowds of Lithuanian government supporters, killing at least 14 and injuring 600 civilians.
A Vilnius district court sentenced six Russian servicemen in 1999, but the trials against another 23 suspects have not been held, pending further investigation.
According to prosecutors, "all suspects have taken refuge in Russia and Belarus, and these countries refuse to extradite them to Lithuania."
VILNIUS, December 29 (RIA Novosti)