Latvija in brief - 2004-11-10

  • 2004-11-10
The prosecutor's office forwarded a recent publication by the far-right group the Latvian National Front to the security services to investigate whether it was guilty of inciting ethnic hatred. The Latvian National Front publishes the radical newspaper DDD, (Decolonization, Debolshevization and Deoccupation), which has recently run stories entitled: "Latvians must be masters in their own land," and "The new task of the Constitution Protection Office: Assess the activities of Jews against Latvians and others."

Police have detained two people in connection with the murder of an American missionary last week. Karlis, aged 19, a conscript and Ingus, an unemployed 22-year-old, are currently being held as suspects by police. Karlis reportedly knew the missionary, and allegedly has a history of mental problems. The two robbed the American of two laptop computers and 1,000 lats (1,475 euros). The missionary has been identified as Drew Bush, a 50-year-old missionary who had been living and working in Latvia with the Campus Crusade for Christ for two years.

A Talsi district court has handed down a 10-month sentence to Sanita Junge for cruelty to animals. Junge, a self-proclaimed dog lover, had been keeping nearly 40 dogs in an illegal kennel at her home. The animals were found nearly starved to death. The judgment also included a five-year ban on breeding dogs, and 3,000 lats in fines from other civil complaints.

State prosecutors have asked a Riga regional court to give the former head of the supervisory board for Banka Laltija, Alexandrs Lavents, 13 years in prison for his role in the collapse of the bank in the mid-'90s that led to losses of some 200 million lats. Prosecutors also asked that the former president of the bank, Talis Freimanis, be given nine years, and Alvis Lidums, director of the company Birojs L&A Ltd., be put away for six years. The state also asked for the confiscation of property from all three. The collapse of the bank set off a banking crisis in the Baltic state and lead to massive losses in savings for many residents.

Prosecutor general Janis Maizitis has announced plans to extradite three Latvian citizens and one noncitizen to Germany to face trial for an alleged string of bank robberies over the past two years. The decision was made after a European arrest warrant was submitted by German authorities. The extradition will be the first time the state has sent Latvian citizens to another country to face trial. The four are suspected of stealing 500,000 euros from 14 German banks, as well as auto theft.

Latvia's largest bank, Parex, plans to open branches in Berlin and Stockholm, said the bank`s spokesman Viktors Zakis. Premises and staff have already been found, and the bank is now working on legal formalities. Parex's plans also includes a future branch in Frankfurt, although the idea has been put on a back burner for now. Currently Parex has only one foreign branch in Tallinn, and is the only Latvian bank to have opened a foreign branch.