Century-old prison complex shut down in central Vilnius

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-02 22:00:10|Editor: Wu Qin
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VILNIUS, July 2 (Xinhua) -- Lukiskes Remand Prison, located in central Vilnius, was officially closed on Tuesday after 115 years of operation, with public discussions ongoing for which purposes the complex of buildings should be used in the future.

"In the nearest future, the prison will be handed over to state enterprise Turto Bankas (Property Bank) and then it will be decided whether the object will be sold or used for other needs," Lithuania's Minister of Justice Elvinas Jankevicius was quoted as saying by local media on the eve of the prison's official closure.

Turto Bankas is responsible for the implementation of centralized management of the state-owned real estate.

The official closing ceremony was attended by Jankevicius, Director of the Prison Department Virginijus Kulikauskas, and heads of the Prison Department's institutions.

According to Jankevicius, public discussion on possible functions of the former prison will be organized within two weeks.

Following the transfer of all prisoners, Lukiskes Prison was opened on Tuesday for public tours. In total, 599 arrestees and inmates have been moved out of the prison.

One of the key reasons for the shutdown was degrading conditions for prisoners due to overcrowding and maintenance costs.

"We hope that at least part of the object will be sold in order to finance higher efficiency of the punishment system. Nevertheless, the most important is that people will no longer see the barbed wires right in the center of Vilnius," Jankevicius said.

The idea of shutting down the prison first emerged back in 1960 and discussions about relocating it have continued, but the process has been slow.

The prison's closure was finally scheduled for the end of 2019 but, according to Director Kulikauskas, the transfer was implemented particularly smoothly, so the facility was closed earlier.

The Lukiskes prison complex includes six buildings located in a prestigious area near Lithuania's Parliament, the Supreme Court, the National Library and the Foreign Ministry. The complex incorporates a prison, a hospital, a checkpoint, production and administration buildings and the Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church.