VILNIUS, Lithuania — A former Lithuanian judge, wanted at home in connection with claims she made about a pedophile ring, has arrived in her native Lithuania after being extradited from Chicago.
Prosecutor Tomas Krusna says Neringa Venckiene, who faces charges that include submitting false reports regarding claims she made about the existence of a ring of influential pedophiles in Lithuania, arrived late Wednesday.
Venckiene was flown to Warsaw, Poland, and then taken by car to the Kaunas detention center in neighboring Lithuania — a 365-kilometer (230-mile) drive.
The 48-year-old had waged a nearly two-year legal battle to avoid extradition. She was elected to national parliament but fled the Baltic nation with her son to seek political asylum in the U.S. in 2013. Venckiene was arrested at Lithuania’s request in early 2018 after an extradition request had been sent to the U.S. Justice Department.
Venckiene was a central figure in a scandal in Lithuania, a nation of 3 million people, where some say she is a heroine for exposing a seedy criminal network and others say she is as a manipulator who fabricated the pedophilia claims.
The once-rising judicial star, who led an anti-pedophilia movement that swept her and six others into Lithuania’s Parliament in 2012, had based her allegations about a pedophile network, in part, on a 2009 video in which her niece graphically describes several men sexually abusing her. But authorities said they weren’t able to corroborate the girl’s claims.
The events surrounding Venckiene included the slaying of another judge accused of molesting her niece, and the death of Venckiene’s brother who leveled the initial child-abuse accusation and was a suspect in the judge’s murder.
Venckiene has said she feared for her life if she was returned to Lithuania.
She will appear at a detention hearing Thursday.
Michael Tarm in Chicago, and Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.
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