by Modesta Gaučaitė-Znutienė, February 12, 2024
The Lithuanian parliament has green-lighted the removal of parliamentary immunity from Remigijus Žemaitaitis for his comments allegedly belittling Jews. Žemaitaitis counters his comments were not anti-Semitic and claims the accusations are political because he decided to run for president.
The Office of Prosecutor General made the request to parliament to annul Žemaitaitis’s legal immunity because of allegedly anti-Semitic comments the MP made on facebook. The MP says this is an attempt to get rid of him ahead of the presidential election in May.
Prosecutor general Nida Grunskienė took to the podium in parliament telling lawmakers the pre-trial investigation into alleged anti-Semitic statements by Žemaitaitis was launched on May 8 last year and involves the possible sowing of discord against a national, racial, ethnic, religious or other group of people.
“The information collected in the pre-trial investigation … lends credence that member of parliament Žemaitaitis on May 8, June 13, June 14 and June 15, 2023, posted texts on his social media pages which might have mocked, belittled and encouraged hate publicly against the group of people of Jewish ethnicity, and might possibly have repeatedly committed the crime defined in article 170, part 2 of the criminal code,” Grunskienė told parliament.
She added Žemaitaitis admitted during an interview with prosecutors last fall that he had posted the texts on facebook which were the subject of investigation. She said he said during the interview that he was expressing his opinion in the posts in question and did not agree these posts constituted “hate-speech.”
Žemaitaitis maintains now that his posts were not anti-Semitic and did not sow ethnic discord. He says the prosecutor general has asked parliament to annul his legal immunity now because of his decision to stand for president.
Full story in Lithuanian here.