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Lithuanians cautious on Belarus claim that dead diplomat was drunk

Deutsche Presse Agentur
Published: Friday August 25, 2006

Vilnius / Minsk- Lithuanian authorities reacted cautiously on Friday to reports from Belarus that a Lithuanian security officer who died there on Wednesday was drunk. "We have not received such information. I only heard this from the media," Prosecutor-General Algimantas Valantinas said, according to Baltic News Service BNS.

Valantinas' comments came as a response to a report from Belarusian state news service Belta, released late on Thursday.

"Chemical analyses (during the post-mortem) showed the presence in the blood of 1.9 promilles (millilitres per litre of blood) of alcohol, which, according to the prosecutor, is a rather high dose," the report said.

Belarusian investigators carried out the post-mortem on diplomat Vytautas Pociunas in the presence of Lithuanian specialists, it added.

Pociunas, a security advisor at the Lithuanian consulate in Grodno, was found dead outside a hotel in the city of Brest early on Wednesday morning.

"During the investigation, multiple injuries to internal organs caused by a fall from a great height were revealed," the report said. Belarusian authorities believe the diplomat's death was caused by an accidental fall from his ninth-floor hotel window.

However, rumours are already circulating in the Lithuanian media that Pociunas, a long-serving security officer, was a very moderate drinker. A blood level of 1.9 promilles is approximately five times the Lithuanian legal drink-driving limit.

And some politicians have already suggested that Pociunas' death might not have been an accident, but a political killing. Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas admitted on Thursday that some of the information brought to light by the inquiry was "worrying."

Pociunas' body was returned to Lithuania late on Thursday night. Further forensic tests are expected to be carried out in his homeland, BNS reported.

© 2006 DPA - Deutsche Presse-Agenteur