Latvija in brief - 2006-03-29

  • 2006-03-29
British law enforcers detained over 50 people, including two Latvian citizens, in a nationwide operation against human trafficking and prostitution, the Russian daily Telegraph reported. After raiding dozens of brothels, massage parlors and private residences, police detained 53 suspects and freed 14 women who had been trafficked, including citizens of Brazil, the Czech Republic, Estonia, China, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Zimbabwe. Most of the pimps and their victims were from Eastern Europe, the newspaper said. Police also freed six girls from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in raids in Southampton.

The Riga Addiction Prevention Center asked for an additional 26,000 lats (37,000 euros) from the amended municipal budget to set up a community center for children addicted to computer games. The Riga City Council said members of the municipal security and public order committee backed the initiative. The center will require 19,000 lats to operate. Andris Andersons, deputy director of the center, told lawmakers that such services were unavailable in Riga but particularly necessary these days. Specialists will help adolescents with their studies and motivate them to acquire professional skills.

A 25-year-old man died on March 23 after being shot during a robbery in Riga's Old Town. It is believed that the victim was shot while trying to stop the fleeing criminal. At 1:00 p.m. a man held up a currency exchange office in the Old Town and stole approximately 10,000 lats in cash. The robber escaped, leaving the man wounded on a street near the currency exchange office. The victim was taken to a local hospital where he died during surgery. Police are currently investigating the case.

An American citizen barged into a nursery school in Riga on March 23 and kidnapped his daughter, who had been legally placed in her mother's custody. "He just ran in and took the child," police spokesman Aigars Berzins stated. The 47-year-old father, who is a U.S. citizen, initially refused to say where he had taken his daughter. Investigators later discovered the girl in her father's flat in the Old Town. The man himself let police in. The child was handed over to medics to check for psychological trauma. A criminal case has been opened against the father for kidnapping. By law, kidnappers can be punished with up to 10 years imprisonment.

On March 28, the government approved a project between Latvia and the European Commission to allocate the 9.5 million euros granted by the EU Solidarity fund for the after-effects of last year's January storm. Finance Minister Oskars Spurdzins has been authorized to sign the agreement from the Latvian side, while the Finance Ministry has been authorized to coordinate the use of the grant.