Latvia refuses to extradite Belarussian opposition leader Tsepkalo

  • 2021-07-07
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Latvian Prosecutor General's Office has refused to extradite Belarussian opposition leader Valery Tsepkalo.

Prosecution office's representative Una Reke told LETA that the decision was made on June 28. The prosecution office does not comment on reasons for the decision.

In line with the Criminal Procedure Law, Latvia may refuse to extradite a person if extradition has been requested in connection with political or military criminal offences, as well as if the request for the extradition of the person is related to the purpose of commencing criminal prosecution of such person or punishing such persons due to his or her race, religion affiliation, nationality, or political views, or if there are sufficient grounds to believe that the rights of the person may be violated due to the referred to reasons.

Also, extradition may be refused if the execution of the request to extradite a person may harm the sovereignty, security, social order, or other substantial interests of the State of Latvia.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (New Unity) and Justice Minister Janis Bordans (New Conservative Party) announced in Februarythat the extradition request should be rejected.

As reported, Belarus investigation committee had launched a procedure on requesting Latvia to extradite opposition leader Valery Tsepkalo, Belarusj 1 TV channel reported in February.

"The investigation committee has sent to the Prosecutor General's Office documents on initiating the procedure. Tsepkalo in Belarus is accused of a number of corruption crimes," the TV channel reported.

Tsepkalo left Belarus un July 2020 after reports that he might face a detention, and initially went to Russia. At present Tsepkalo and his wife are staying in Latvia.

It was also reported that after the presidential elections in Belarus in August, Latvia received a number of applications from Belarus citizens, seeking asylum. Several decision on granting the asylum have been made, but the Latvian Citizenship and Migration Affairs Board did not disclose the names.

Tsepkalo planned to run for the Belarus presidential elections on August 9, but the election commissions refused to register his candidacy.