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Shootings and solidarity: a very problematic case (updated)

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Two murders shocked my hometown Kaunas. When I heard that a judge was murdered, I thought, 'Mafia shootouts - here they go again'... We have more or less forgotten about them since the 90s. However, the case proved to be quite different. It provokes thousands of comments on news portals every day now.

Apparently, almost a year ago, or so they say, the judge, the other victim and the judge's colleague were accused of child molesting by Drasius Kedys, the father of the child concerned, and he is now the key suspect.

The suspect, whose name means 'brave' in Lithuanian, legally kept a gun. He was divorced, and didn't have the custody of the child. Yet when he or his mother heard the stories the child told, the father tried all available means to open a legal case against the judges - to no avail. Facing resistance within the system, he addressed the media, and his cause was presented to the public. It's a bit more problematic than the father would like it to seem - he himself objected to 10-day psychiatric monitoring of his child. He said this is due to his fears that the judges would put pressure on both the medical experts and the child.

As the case was still 'frozen', he is now believed to have committed an act of desperation - he shot down one of the judges and the child's aunt, whom he accuses of 'supplying' young children to the judges. Nothing is proved yet, and there is no evidence to close the case or label anybody 'pedophile' or anything (let's not forget the presumption of innocence), but one thing is clear: there was resistance within the system to the opening of the legal case, and there are grounds to believe that this is due to the factual impunity of judges. They are also immune to media pressure as they are not elected.

What is interesting is that the police reports that hardly any citizens called to indicate the whereabouts of the suspect. One out of three or four of those who did call reported seeing him in the old town - that would be very brave of a suspected murderer. In other famous murder cases, the police would get thousands of phone calls. Comments in online portals show a huge wave of solidarity with this 'lonely fighter against the system'. Most people would recall their own bad experiences with the judiciary - or at least reading about their corruption. It doesn't feel as if this, I would even say, act of terrorism is romanticised. It rather feels that it expresses and embodies the anger and frustration that people feel over not having their rights properly defended. Therefore people empathise with the suspect. Even more people will now admit that physical violence is the only means of getting through the complex layers of the system, and this is scary.

This event reminds me of a case in Russia, when a man brought his wife to hospital and was made to wait as the staff expected a bribe. The wife died, the man went home, took a gun, shot down each one of the staff that refused to treat his wife, and killed himself.


Update 24/10/2009

A special commission investigating the way the case was handled has already announced that five people in the general prosecutor's office and the Kaunas office will be punished by demotion or dismissal. The conclusions from the commission state that the 'untypical case' was handled using typical means, inappropriate for the peculiar circumstances. They ascribe this to 'lack of competence'. The case was passed over from  one institution to another until it was left for public prosecutors in Vilnius for investigation. The people concerned have a right to appeal the decision.