RIGA - Former Rezekne City Mayor Juris Zacests has been fined 3,600 lats (5,100 euros) for vote-buying in the eastern Latvian city's 2005 municipal elections.
The fine, which was ruled by the Latgale Regional Court on May 17, is equal to 40 minimum monthly wages.Zacests was accompanied by two co-defendants during the case, Grigorijs Bekasovs, who was sentenced to 200 hours of community service, and Olga Skutane, who received 160 hours of community service. Prosecutor Peteris Rutkovskis had initially demanded a 4,500 lat fine for the former Rezekne mayor.
On June 1, the court will release the full text of its judgement, after which Zacests will have 10 days to file an appeal.
The MP told BNS that he planned to appeal the verdict.
"There is no doubt about it, I'm definitely going to file an appeal. I might have the money to pay the fine, but this is not about money. I'm innocent," he said, adding that statements by witnesses had been contradictory.
According to Zacests, when accused of speaking to voters and offering them bribes, he had been in a completely different location. The case, he stated, was a fabrication concocted against him for political reasons.
The MP earlier told BNS that he had been charged for offering voters some 60 lats. Zacests explained that he had, indeed, given 60 lats to people in financial trouble, but this had nothing to do with the upcoming municipal elections. "I only left a couple of party programs and booklets with them, and asked them to do some canvassing," said the former mayor.
Under Latvian law, vote-buying can earn an individual up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 60 minimum monthly wages.