Estonian foreign ministry asks Austria for explanation

Today the Estonian Foreign Ministry invited Austrian Ambassador Angelika Saupe-Berchtold to the Foreign Ministry in Tallinn and asked for an explanation as to why Austrian law enforcement authorities decided to release Mikhail Golovatov, a former KGB officer suspected in killings that took place on 13 January 1991, after he was detained in Vienna.

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that releasing Golovatov after less than 24 hours was incomprehensible and an unpleasant surprise. “We would like an explanation regarding the circumstances under which he was released so quickly. The important thing is for the international arrest warrant issued by Lithuania to remain in effect so that this person can be detained and an investigation can be carried out,” said Foreign Minister Paet. “If there is a strong and justified suspicion that he carried out these crimes in Vilnius in 1991, as a result of which 14 people were killed, then he must be brought before a court,” Paet added.

Paet said that the Austrian ambassador justified the release of Golovatov through fine legal points, but Estonia would still like additional and detailed explanations as to what arguments were more compelling than the need to get a suspect wanted for serious crimes into a courtroom. “Killing demonstrators who were standing up for the independence of their country in Vilnius was a serious crime, and helping to bring a suspect in this crime before a court would be a logical move for any democratic society,” he added.

The Estonian, Lithuanian and Latvian foreign ministers Urmas Paet, Audronius Ažubalis ja Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis yesterday sent a joint letter to EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding and the foreign ministers of the other European Union member states. In the joint letter they express their disappointment and their failure to understand why this has happened.

Source: Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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