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Lithuanian parlt speaker, over 40 MPs propose narrowing down legal immunity

VILNIUS – Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas Viktoras Pranckietis and over 40 lawmakers are proposing narrowing down the legal immunity of MPs, judges, prime minister and ministers.

They have drafted constitutional amendments stating that a member of the Seimas, judge, minister and prime minister could be prosecuted without the Seimas or presidential consent, if they are suspected of having committed a less serious or serious crime.

Currently, there's no such an exception and in all cases the parliament's consent is needed for the prosecution of above-mentioned persons, or that of the president in between parliamentary sessions.

"As the recent cases of Petras Grazulis, Viktor Uspaskich and some other Seimas members show, the existing parliamentary immunity model in place in Lithuania is more often used to impede and protract legal processes or halt them altogether, and not to ensure lawmakers' safety from unfounded political persecution," the bill's authors say. "The system creates conditions for interested lawmakers to make use of votes on lifting legal immunity as a negotiating subject-matter to bend lawmakers wishing to preserve their unjustified protection from justice implementation to their purposes."

The bill's explanatory note states such a practice distorts the essence of immunity, does damage to public trust in the whole political system and its fair operation, and also creates conditions for persons' legal inequality before the law, unjustified by their existing position.

The bill comes after Lithuanian lawmakers rejected the prosecutor general's request on June 25 to lift the legal immunity of MP Grazulis to face prosecution for abuse of his official position in the so-called Judex case.

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