Vasiliauskas v. Lithuania – how to deal with the past ?

The European Court of Human Rights has in early June held a hearing in the Vasiliauskas v. Lithuania (35343/05). Webcast of the hearing is available here. Mr Vasiliauskas was convicted before the Lithuanian courts of crime of genocide on the basis of killing two members of Lithuanian resistance movement against Soviet occupation in January 1953. The Lithuanian courts found that victims belonged to protected national group. Mr Vasiliauskas complains that that Lithuanian courts breached prohibition of Article 7 (no punishment without law) of the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The European Courts found already in similar cases Kononov and others v Latvia and Kolk and Kislyiy  v Estonia that prohibition of retroactivity does not apply to genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. However, it remains to be seen how the Court will decide in this case, particularly after its Grand Chamber decision in the case of Janowiec and others v Russia. It will be also interesting to see whether the Court will venture in discussing definition of crime of genocide both in international law and domestic Lithuanian criminal law.

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