Issue No. 37 of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania reported that the KGB is building a case against Father Sigitas Tamkevičius, pastor of Kybartai, in connection with a traffic accident which took place on June 1, 1978.
Father Tamkevičius appealed to the State Security Committee of the Lithuanian SSR on January 31, 1979, protesting that the Committee is used to eliminate a priest (SeeChronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, No. 37).
On February 6th, on the basis of the statement made by Aleksandras Razvinavičius, the prosecutor's offfice of the Rayon of Varėna issued an indictment in the accident. Razvinavičius went to the Varėna prosecutor's office at the instigation of security police officials.
On February 13th, the head of the KGB Secretariat, A. Grakauskas, sent Father Tamkevičius the following reply:
"In reply to your statement of January 31, 1979, we inform you that investigating the circumstances surrounding traffic accidents is not within the jurisdiction of state security organs."
On February 19th, Father Tamkevičius was summoned to the Varėna militia for interrogation.
On March 4th, the Moscow Christian Committee for the Defense of the Rights of Believers protested to the Security Committee of the Lithuanian SSR concerning the persecution of Father Tamkevičius.
On April 18th, Father Tamkevičius was again summoned to the Varėna militia to verify testimony at the site of the accident.
On May 21st, the interrogator allows Father Tamkevičius to examine the case documents. The plaintiff is listed as Aleksandras Razvinavičius.
On June 28th, a trial session was scheduled to be held at the Varėna People's Court. About eighty believers, mostly young people, came to the trial. After everyone had assembled in the courtroom, the judge announced that the plaintiff Razvinavičius was ill and the trial was therefore being postponed. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that this was a lie. The KGB probably did not want many people to attend the trial.
After leaving the courtroom near the court building (the militia and security police are housed in the same building) the young people presented the persecuted priest with a bouquet of flowers as a sign of their solidarity and empathy. While the young people presented the flowers, someone in the crowd began to sing "Marija, Marija . . ." (Mary, Mary). The sight was unparalleled and indescribable: the singing crowd encircling the priest who held a huge bouquet of carnations, roses and other flowers, the fearless faces of the youth, and standing behind them like a wall, militiamen and grim, stone-faced security agents. But the sight did not last long: A commotion began the militia began to disperse the people. The crowd withdrew slowly and calmly, despite the strong steam of water directed at them. Some of the people headed for the church.
Immediately after the trail session, Father Tamkevičius went to see Razvinavičius at home and learned that he was in good health and had been summoned the night before to the Šalčininkai Rayon State Security Committee. The trial was therefore deliberately postponed by the militia or security police officials!
After praying, everyone prepared to go home, but the Varėna militia and security police began to detain people at the railroad station and take them to the militia. This time, the militiamen were especially cruel: they mercilessly beat and kicked the young people and women when arresting them. Some 13 persons were arrested. Among them, (Mrs) Dana Kelmelienė was severely beaten on the head. The militiamen mocked the arrested woman calling her a tramp. One of them stated: "We'll see to it that you no longer attend trials!" After the severe beating to the head, an ambulance had to be summoned for (Mrs) Kelmelienė. After several days of interrogation, (Mrs) Kelmelienė was released in a critical condition, all the other prisoners were released that same day.
After bringing Dana Kelmelienė home to Vilkaviškis, her family took her to the hospital, but the physician on duty, Yelisejev, refused to admit the seriously injured woman. Everyone is convinced that the Varėna KGB ordered the Vilkaviškis Hospital not to admit the injured woman.
(Mrs) Kelmelienė was given no medical assistance for three days after suffering a severe brain concussion. Currently, she is convalescing in the hospital.
A second trial session was scheduled for July 13th. From early morning all roads leading to Varėna were patrolled by motor vehicle agents who noted the people going to Varėna: They recorded the driver's name, residence, place of employment and the number of passengers.
That day, a large number of militiamen, security agents and auxiliary policemen was summoned to Varėna. Only fifty people were admitted into the courtroom, while the remaining seats were taken by government officials. Those who failed to gain admittance into the courtroom stood in the corridor. In all, some 150 believers had come for the trial.
KGB officials photographed everyone who entered and left the trial.
The court questioned five witnesses: (Miss) Buzaitė, Mickevičius, Čiurlionis, Graževičius and Tamulevičius who all testified that Father Tamkevičius was not responsible for the traffic accident and could not avoid the collision.
The court found Razvinavičius guilty and gave him a suspended sentence of one and a half years.
After the trial, the faithful went to the church and found the doors locked. It was later learned that as Father Tamkevičius' trial drew near, Chairman Baublys of the Varėna City Executive Committee paid a visit to the local pastor Bronius Jauras and demanded that the church be closed until 3:00 PM on July 13th.
Why was this trial necessary? Why did the KGB urge Razvinavičius to go to court and then fail to support him?
First. The intrigues of the KGB leaked out.
Second. Unable to conceal its activity, the KGB allowed the court to show its objectivity: Let the whole world know that the Soviet court does not persecute either priests or believers without cause and the information reported in the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania is pure slander.
Third. By exploiting this accident, the KGB blackmailed Father Tamkevičius for more than a year, taking much of his time in the hope of drawing him away from active work in his ministry and the defense of believers' rights.