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Fugitive who was hiding in Ireland for 13 years denies murdering best pal

Marius Civinskas (37) had a fake identity and family in Cork

Marius Civinskas is currently on trial.

Alan Sherry

A Lithuanian fugitive who featured on Europol’s Most Wanted list while living in Ireland under a false identity has denied murdering his best friend during a gang dispute.

Marius Civinskas (37) had managed to spend 13 years evading authorities who were seeking him in relation to the murder of an associate shot dead in Lithuania in 2006.

Civinskas, who denies carrying out the murder, fled the country after the killing and was initially believed to be in other parts of Europe before settling in Ireland, where he started a family.

He lived in Cork under a false identity with his wife and children where he kept a low profile. But he was finally tracked down by gardai in May 2019 and was extradited to Lithuania last year.

He is accused of the murder of his pal Raimondas Simkus (28), who was fatally shot in Palanga on the west coast of Lithuania on April 3, 2006.

Civinskas is currently standing trial in his native country for the killing but denies the charges.

“I consider myself innocent,” he said. He added that he went on the run because he was in shock and he “knew how the police worked at the time”.

He described Simkus as his “best friend” and said the accusations against him were untrue.

The victim was known to police and had been a suspect in a robbery shortly before his death.

Authorities in Lithuania allege that there had been a dispute that day between two groups of men suspected of involvement in crime.

Civinskas and Simkus were on the same side but it is alleged when the dispute became more heated Civinskas pulled out a sawn-off rifle and opened fire, hitting his friend in the back.

One theory put forward by police is that the alleged gunman may have been aiming for someone else.

One of the people present at the scene drove Simkus to hospital but he died shortly afterwards.

Other witnesses who were present on the day have given evidence at the trial to say two groups met to solve a dispute but claim they can’t remember what happened in terms of the actual shooting because it was so long ago.

Witness Edvardis Benetis said: “I don’t really remember the details, it’s been a long time. I know we went to talk to find out why the conflict happened. Marius Civinskas and I were in opposite camps.”

He added that he could not remember details about the shooting itself and did not want to mislead the court.

Simkus’s partner Viktorija gave evidence to say she was pregnant with his child and wanted to talk to him about it on the day he was killed. They met up and talked before he was later picked up by a dark VW Golf.

“We said goodbye and Raimondas got in the car.

“Back then, I didn’t know I was seeing him alive one last time. The next morning, I got a call from the police and told me the bad news, and also asked me to come and recognise the body.”

She added she was shocked to learn a few days later that Simkus was also in a relationship with another woman whom he had a child with.

“I was in a terrible double shock — both because of Raimondas’ death and because of that news about another woman.”

The victim’s sister Kristina also gave evidence to say she had launched civil proceedings against Civinskas in relation to the cost of the burial of her brother.

Civinskas went on the run after the shooting and police say his family was not helpful in tracing his whereabouts.

Investigators later received information he was using forged identification and was possibly in the Netherlands or Denmark.

However, he settled in Ireland where he lived for most of the time on the run. He told authorities he also spent some time in the UK.

He was put on Europol’s European Most Wanted List in December 2016 and gardai issued an appeal for information in finding him.

He was arrested in Cork in May 2019 and extradited to Lithuania in August 2020.

The murder trial has been ongoing since January but has been delayed a number of times due to illness of some witnesses and difficulties in contacting other witnesses.

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