Page last updated at 16:40 GMT, Friday, 13 February 2009

Outcry over murderer's UK entry

Vitas Plytnykas
Vitas Plytnykas moved to Scotland about two years before killing Jolanta

Politicians have asked why a Lithuanian man who murdered a woman in Angus was allowed to enter the UK despite a previous conviction for killing.

British authorities were unaware that Vitas Plytnykas had been jailed for manslaughter in Germany in 2001.

He moved to Scotland after his release, where he tortured, murdered and dismembered Jolanta Bledaite last year.

The UK Border Agency said it was working to ensure criminals could not exploit free movement.

Plytnykas, 41, who is thought to have previously served as a soldier, was jailed for seven years and six months in Germany in June 2001 after getting involved in a fight about money that resulted in a man's death.

It is not clear that the Crown knew of this man's conviction at the time of his being indicted for this horrific crime
Bill Aitken
Tory justice spokesman
He was deported to Lithuania in January 2005, before arriving in Scotland with his partner and young child between 18 months and two years before killing fellow-Lithuanian Jolanta, 35, last March.

As an EU citizen he was free to move to any member state despite his conviction.

Scottish Tory justice spokesman Bill Aitken said Jolanta could still be alive if Plytnykas had been barred from entering the country.

Mr Aitken said: "This is a truly tragic case, where a convicted killer is able to walk into this country with the authorities being completely unaware of his record.

"Indeed it is not clear that the Crown knew of this man's conviction at the time of his being indicted for this horrific crime.

"Had the law been in place whereby the authorities here had known of his past, he could have been barred from entering the country and the young life of Jolanta Bledaite could have been saved.

"There needs to be a much greater exchange of information on the part of the police in European countries. The tragic outcome of this case must encourage a much greater degree of cooperation."

'Substantial increase'

Lithuania is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), and European Community law gives its nationals the right to live and work in the UK.

The UK Border Agency refused to comment to BBC Scotland on the specifics of the case.

But it released a general statement, which said it had a "range of tools available to identify and prevent wanted persons from entering the UK including a watchlist of information on people we wish to prevent from entering the country."

The statement added: "This database includes information for the purposes of national security and the detection and prevention of crime.

"We are continuing to expand our watch-lists, work more closely with foreign governments to share information, and speed up the re-documentation of those being removed.

"Individuals are checked against this database before they even enter the United Kingdom. We are engaging with our European partners to develop a more joined up overall strategy for appropriate data sharing across Europe, including for immigration purposes."

The agency said that it was "committed" to deporting EEA nationals who break the law, and added: "We are removing more EEA criminals than ever before. In 2008 we deported a record 5,000 foreign criminals, a substantial increase from the 4,200 we deported from Britain the year before."

A Home Office spokeswoman said any European Economic National sentenced to more than two years in prison would be deported.

Jolanta Bledaite
Jolanta's head was found on a beach by two young sisters

Plytnykas was convicted by a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh of torturing and killing Jolanta before cutting up her body and throwing it into the sea at Arbroath.

Co-accused Aleksandras Skirda, 20, previously admitted murder, and gave evidence against Plytnykas in court.

Jolanta had been made to give over her bank card's Pin number before she was smothered with a pillow.

Her head was found on the beach at Arbroath on 1 April by two sisters, aged eight and 11, who had been playing on the shore.

Her hands were found by police search teams soon afterwards.

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