Supreme Court puts off Berezovsky appeal

  • 2006-02-01
  • From wire reports
RIGA - The Supreme Court Senate has postponed the hearing of Russia's exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky, who is complaining about his blacklisting in Latvia, until April 21. In the meantime, the court decided to summon former Interior Minister Eriks Jekabsons, who allowed the former Russian tycoon to enter the country.

Berezovsky's lawyer, Lauris Liepa, told the court that, prior to the National Security Council meeting last October, which was followed by the decision to include Berezovsky on the list of personae non grata, Jekabsons had said he did not have information that Berezovsky's visits to Latvia posed a threat to national security.

The decision to blacklist Berezovsky was eventually signed by Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis, who acted as interior minister after Jekabsons' resignation, and was based on recommendations by security agencies.

The court summoned Jekabsons to clarify this contradiction, said Valerijans Jonikans, administrative case department head of the Supreme Court Senate.

But the court postponement seriously undermines Liepa's chances of participating in the proceedings, as the case involved many documents containing state secrets. Liepa does not have the required security clearance.

So far, the lawyer was able to study those documents by signing a statement of non-disclosure. In the future, however, a different procedure will apply.

On Jan. 26, Parliament passed as urgent legislative amendments to the immigration law, under which examination of evidence containing state secrets can be done only by a representative of the claimant who has special clearance. Liepa will have to apply for this clearance.

After the court hearing, Liepa told the press he was displeased with the postponement and would apply for the security clearance.

Security Police deputy chief Ints Ulmanis argued that his colleagues had followed Berezovsky's activities since the latter's first visit to Latvia in February 2005, and had gathered enough information about his negative influence on national security.

Jonikans confirmed that the Security Police had submitted nine thick volumes with information about Berezovsky's activities.

Berezovsky said earlier that Latvia's decision to declare him persona non grata was influenced by pressure from Russia, where he was wanted for tax fraud, and structures linked with U.S. businessman and philanthropist George Soros