Black man attacked in Riga center

  • 2006-06-13
Two people attacked a black man walking down Brivibas Street in Riga on June 10, police reported. Thanks to the efforts of a bystander, who chased the two assailants and captured them, the attackers have been identified and charged.

At 7 p.m. two young people accosted the man with racist remarks, and hit him with a bottle. The assailants tried to flee the scene, but the victim of the attack and a passer-by caught them. The suspects were detained at the 5th department of the Riga City Chief Police Office. Though the victim noted the racist remarks, the police decided to charge the attackers with hooliganism not a hate crime, AfroLat said.

The police said, according to AfroLat, that they had had no experience with hate crimes, making a case against hooliganism easier to file. At the insistence of AfroLat representatives, the police decided to reconsider their decision. Aigars Berzins, a spokesman for Latvian State Poice, said, according to BNS, that if the investigation discovers the young people had racial motives, the criminal procedure will be changed.

The victim is currently undergoing a medical examination. The attackers had a criminal record, said Berzins.
The Latvian branch of the European Network Against Racism issued a press release issued on June 12, demanding that the government needed to improve its ways of dealing with hate crimes. "This is yet another racially motivated attack that highlights several deficiencies in the police response and gaps in the national laws supposed to provide protection against this kind of crimes," the press release said.