- July 3, 2012
Suspect found in an act of vandalism on Józef Piłsudski’s tombstone in Rossa cemetery.
The suspect is a drug addict Vitalijus Celikas, who for many years has been living in the chapel at the cemetery. Celikas himself denies being responsible for the act.
On the night between 16th and 17th of June, unknown perpetrators desecrated the Mausoleum of Marszałek Józef Piłsudski, and the grave of his mother. So called “Columns of Gediminas” have been painted on the tombstone with orange paint.
Police questioned the inhabitant of Rossa cemetery. Celikas has not turned up for further questioning. ‘’I cannot comment. The investigation is still in progress, we are checking all possible scenarios. Vitalijus Celikas is still only a suspect.
We are gathering all the facts which can help us in conducting the investigation. I cannot say that the suspect is hiding. But if he does, he will not run far. He is suspected of using drugs. Of course this has no bearing on the case,’ Olga Šleiterienė, prosecutor at the 4th Police Station in Wilno, told “Kurier.”
Evidentiary proceedings are currently being held in the case. Such felony carries a one-year imprisonment penalty. Cemetery workers, however, question the prosecutor’s version.
‘I doubt Vitalik did it. He’s a drug addict, he spends all the money he has on the next dose. I don’t believe he would spend it on something like paint. He’s peaceful, takes care of the graves, puts up flowers. Sometimes he gives tours for visitors from Poland; he does it very well, tells engaging stories. Of course he walks around and asks for change; since he says it’s for food he usually gets some. In my opinion he didn’t do it,’ Mr. Zbyszek, a souvenir seller at the Rossa cemetery, told “Kurier.”
He stressed that several days before the incident a group of suspicious young people was going around the cemetery. They introduced themselves as art school students. Nothing should be assumed of course but there are many possible scenarios.
The suspect is a drug addict; he admits as much himself, as well as the fact that he lives in a chapel at the cemetery – he keeps his belongings there.
‘They suspect me, probably because I’m an addict. I am one, unfortunately, but I’m not a criminal. I assure you, this is not my doing. I’ve lived at the Rossa cemetery for many years. I enjoy looping after the graves and meeting tourists from Poland. I’m Polish myself. Why would I paint these columns, I don’t know what do they look like or what they mean. I would never do something like that, it’s not my style. I’ve got no time for it,’ said Vitalijus Celikas, constantly running off somewhere. Vitalijus is well known to people who trade or live near the Rossa cemetery.
‘I know him very well. I remember him as a kid, always running around here. What happened to him, made him start taking drugs, I do not know. Maybe lack of familial warmth. He lives at the chapel, looks after the graves. I have never heard of him harming anyone. I cannot vouch for him because I do not know what goes on in his head, what he’s capable or incapable of. But I doubt he did that,’ says a woman living near the cemetery.
Tłumaczenie Ewelina Zarembska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Ewelina Zarembska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.