On December 19 and 20, 1973, the People's Court of Lenin District in Vilnius heard a case against the "embezzlers of state property." Presiding was Judge Stankevičius.
In the bill of indictment, which took Procurator Dėdinas about three hours to read, A. Terleckas was charged with violating Articles 160, 157, and section 2 of Article 94 of the LSSR Criminal Code. The second part of the last-mentioned article deals with crimes committed jointly by a group of individuals, however, A. Terleckas was alone in the dock.
From the indictment it became clear that A. Terleckas is a college graduate with a degree in economics. He also studied history. In 1958, he had been on trial for a political crime in violation of Article 58 of the Criminal Code. There has been talk that Terleckas was a "major irritant" in the eyes of the Soviet government, which therefore was seeking revenge. This opinion was fully confirmed by the proceedings of the trial.
Since 1972, A. Terleckas worked in the Confectionary Department of the Bureau of Cafeterias and Restaurants. From the fall of 1972 to mid-April, 1973, he headed the department, and subsequently, until May 24 he was in charge of the department's supplies' warehouse. On May 24, 1973, he was arrested. After his arrest, his apartment was searched for the purpose of investigating the alleged misappropriation of state property. It is strange that the magazines Naujoji Romuva [The new Romuva], Mūsų Vilnius [Our Vilnius], and others were confiscated. What is the connection between them and buns?
During the preliminary investigation, instead of ascertaining the actual embezzlers, the investigators made use of unseemly methods, seeking to obtain from the witnesses the desired though untrue testimony implicating Terleckas.
When an attempt was made to force Terleckas into signing a falsified transcript of the proceedings, he demanded that the procurator be summoned. In an effort to break Terleckas, the investigators grasped at extreme measures—he was locked up in the psychiatric section of Lukiškiai Prison.
The trial of the "embezzlers of state property" began on December 19, 1973. Judge Stankevičius frequently demonstrated his lack of objectivity by asking witnesses leading questions and pressuring them to give the desired answers. He browbeat witnesses and made sarcastic comments when their testimony displeased him, but he overlooked contradictions when witnesses became confused while giving false testimony detrimental to the defendant.
The indictment comprised six volumes.
The procurator's charges were serious; the alleged crimes were grave. Terleckas was charged with stealing raw materials such as butter, sugar, salt, eggs, etc., from the warehouse. He supposedly instructed the bakers to produce low-quality goods, and the truck drivers and shipping clerks to make unauthorized deliveries of the finished goods and to turn over the cash obtained in these transactions to Terleckas.
The litigation revealed that the facts were otherwise. On May 23 to 25, 1973, officials of the OBCHS (Ministry of the Interior department in charge of combating the embezzling of state property), had halted the trucks operated by the drivers Geic and Svirskis while they were making deliveries of the finished goods. Upon checking their records, the officials found that some of the goods in the trucks were not listed. It turned out that these two men would make money on the side by selling these products for cash. By some "lucky" chance, however, neither Geic nor Svirskis was charged. (Their offense was considered by a lenient court.) By putting the blame on Terleckas, they became the key witnesses against him.
The questioning of the witnesses showed that the shortages of raw materials in the warehouse were the direct result of improper bookkeeping to which no one had paid any attention from the very inception of the department some ten years previously. Not one department head was charged in the case except Terleckas, who had headed the department for only a few months. The bakers and their manager were fully responsible for what was being produced and its quality, and not Terleckas, who was merely in charge of the warehouse. For this reason, those charges were later dropped. The charges of the violation of section 2 of Article 94 of the Criminal Code (crimes committed jointly by several individuals) were based only on the oral testimony of Geic and Svirskis, which really should not have carried much weight in the proceedings. It was these two, in fact, who should have been in the dock. Their testimony was very confused. They stuttered, blushed, and contradicted their barely uttered statements. Finally, Svirskis became completely silent, not knowing how to answer the questions of the attorney for the defense. When Svirskis' truck had been halted, other unaccounted-for products were found, such as sausages, which are not produced by the bakery-confectionary department. These same drivers also delivered identical goods from other bakeries-confec-tionaries; therefore it was impossible to determine whether the goods found in the truck had been taken from the department in which Terleckas was employed. This was confirmed by the testimony of the director of the laboratory which had conducted a chemical analysis of the products.
Notwithstanding the fact that after all the testimony it was obvious that Terleckas was innocent—a fact admitted by the procurator himself when he asked that many of the charges be dropped—on the basis of the (completely unconvincing) oral testimony of Geic and Svirskis the procurator demanded four years in a strict-regime prison.
After the procurator had completed his summation, in his reply Defense Attorney Kovarskis asked whether the words of Geic and Svirskis were as infallible as those of gods that their statements were being believed so readily when they themselves should have been on trial. By admitting to the court that they had taken part in Terleckas' crimes they had risked nothing, for they had been acquited and were no longer in jeopardy. Why was the testimony of other witnesses being ignored?
Judge Stankevičius announced the verdict of the court on December 26, 1973, that is, following a four-day recess after the examination of the witnesses. The defendant was sentenced to one year in a strict-regime prison, including the time that had elapsed since his arrest. The judge added that the sentence should have been harsher since this was the defendant's second offense, but that it had been reduced for "humane" reasons (while trying an innocent man), because of the defendant's poor health and tragic family circumstances—the critical illness of his wife and the presence of three small children.
This is how the Soviet courts are used to deal with those who have displeased the security police.