Lithuania prepares case against ex-Soviet soldier

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Associated Press

Posted on March 14, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Updated Friday, Mar 14 at 11:33 AM

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — A Lithuanian court has ruled that a Russian citizen accused of taking part in a deadly Soviet crackdown on pro-independence protesters 23 years ago can be jailed for two months as prosecutors prepare charges of crimes against humanity.

Yury Mel was arrested at a border checkpoint earlier this week upon entering Lithuania from Russia's Kaliningrad region.

He was on a Lithuanian wanted list of 79 former Soviet troops that prosecutors say took part in the January 1991 crackdown, which killed 14 and injured hundreds. Most of the suspects live in Russia, which refuses to hand them over.

Mel, 45, admitted in court that he participated in a military operation in Vilnius but denied killing anyone.

The Russian Embassy said it would offer him legal assistance.

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