Baltics Condemn Golovatov Decision

Latvia and Estonia have joined Lithuania in condemning an Austrian court’s decision to set free Mikhail Golovatov, who is wanted in Lithuania for war crimes.

The foreign ministers of the three Baltic states — Audronis Ažubalis (Lithuania), ?irts Valdis Kristovskis (Latvia) and Urmas Paet (Estonia) — sent a joint letter to EU authorities in protest of the release.

“The decision to release Golovatov impairs the effectiveness of international legal co-operation in criminal cases and lessens the significance of the EU solidarity principle for the member states”, the letter says.

The letter also highlights that Golovatov was released 24 hours after he was detained. “Though we understand the principle of judicial independence, we are still concerned about the speed at which the Austrian authorities decided to release the individual.”

As previously reported, Mikhail Golovatov is wanted for his role in the storming of the state television studios on January 13th, 1991, in which 14 people died and more than a thousand were wounded.

Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger has said that the Lithuanian-issued European arrest warrant was “too vague” to keep the man in detention.

Golovatov was given permission to fly to Russia immediately after his release, where Russian law will be able to block his extradition. By The Baltic Times (July 20, 2011)