Father Leonas was murdered in the Luokė rectory during the night of October 8, 1980. Only after the free world press began to comment widely about this sadistic crime, did Tiesa (The Truth) print on August 15, 1981, an article entitled "Žudikai suimti" ("Killers Arrested") by Vytautas Zeimantas (special KGB korrespond-ent).

The trial of Father Leonas Šapoka's killers was held in the hall of the Mastis factory in Telšiai on December 2, 3, 4 and 7, 1981. The large hall did not accomodate all who wished to attend the trial; therefore many followed the trial proceedings in the vestibule through loudspeakers. Security agents from Vilnius attentively watched the crowd; there was no shortage of militiamen either.

The trial was presided over by Lithuanian SSR Supreme Court Judge Jukna, the prosecutor: Mackevičius, defense attorneys: (Mrs.) Šidlauskienė, Jankauskas and Aleksandravičius.

One day the trial proceedings were recorded on fdm.

The accused:

Jonas Sabaliauskas, born 1955, agronomist,

     Danielius Mockevičius born 1962, Communist Youth League member, caretaker of the Raseiniai Veterinary station, Adonas Lukšas, 30 years of age, common thief. Sabaliauskas and Lukšas were not on trial for the first time. In his speech, Prosecutor Mackevičius wanted to know what had brought them to the prisoners' dock and why they had brutally murdered a man, but he received no answer. He demanded the death penalty for Jonas Sabaliauskas and fifteen years imprison­ment for the other two.

The people who attended the trial proceedings formed the impression that it was not the three culprits who were on trial, but godlessness which removed God from young hearts and left instead a vacuum, turning people into beasts.

During the trial, certain circumstances which the Soviet press had suppressed came to light. For instance, the instigators of this sadistic crime — veterinarians Preibys and Zigmas Mockevičius — were white-washed, while the heavy punishment fell only on secondary figures, technical workers.

Father Leonas Šapoka had helped the orphaned Preibys complete his veterinary studies, obtain an apartment and purchase a car. His reward was this. Preibys told his cousins Zigmas (Com­munist Party member, speculator in drugs and cars) and Danielius that Father Šapoka had a great deal of money, was a coward and would hand over the money himself if threatened. Preibys took both cousins to see Father Šapoka and there the culprits carefully studied the rectory. At the trial, Preibys slandered Father Šapoka, alleging that he did not practice celibacy; he tried to exonerate himself by claiming that he had merely told the culprits that the pastor was very generous. Thus, Preibys remained a mere witness.

Zigmas Mockevičius had planned the attack on Father Šapoka but at the very last minute had refused to participate; therefore Adomas Lukšas had been invited to replace him. Following the crime, Zigmas Mockevičius sold his car (he sold three that sum­mer) and admitted himself to a psychiatric hospital, thus becoming "unchargeable".

The culprits had formulated a detailed plan for attacking the rectory and after drinking a bottle of liquor began to execute it. Sabaliauskas attacked the pastor. The tortured priest showed where the church money — 587 rubles — was kept and found himself in the hands of a sadist. The torture lasted several hours; the judge stated that eighty-three blows were struck. Expert testimony con­firmed: a broken rib, three burn wounds, fifty blows to the body, a knife wound in the neck, six-seven neck vertebrae broken; the victim had been strangled.

Because the pastor's money had been placed in a savings account, the killers could not obtain it.

The defense attorney stated that the accused had not received a proper upbringing and that was the reason they found them­selves behind bars.

Not one of the accused asked for mercy, and on the last day they were in the best of spirits, as if they had learned of extenuating circumstances.

The mother of the condemned Sabaliauskas related that her son was quite good, but unfortunately had made the acquaintance of Zigmas Mockevičius, who involved him in crime.

The audience greeted the sentence with loud applause. "What good will it do?" others said, "All of Lithuania can be executed in this way. It is necessary to change the bankrupt atheist up­bringing which has corrupted the nation."

The trial did not reveal the actual truth about the murder of Father Leonas Šapoka and probably no one will ever reveal it. While this trial was being held, Helsinki group member Father Bronius Laurinavičius was killed in Vilnius. His true killers also will remain shrouded in mystery.


Fellow Lithuanian, Don't Forget!

Sergei Kovalev Balys Gajauskas Viktoras Petkus Mečislovas Jurevičius Vytautas Vaičiūnas Povilas Pečeliūnas Gintautas Iešmantas Genė Navickaitė Julius Sasnauskas Anastazas Janulis Vytautas Skuodis Petras Paulaitis Algirdas Statkevičius Antanas Terleckas and others who bear the shackles of prison, so that you might live and practice your faith.