Latvija in brief - 2006-08-09

  • 2006-08-09
The government accepted a report by the Interior Ministry about the need to renovate the National Board Guard regional headquarters in Daugavpils and build a detention camp for illegal immigrants as well as a center for asylum seekers. Such facilities need to be overhauled as the number of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers will increase steeply with accession to the Schengen Treaty, and Latvia expects to do so in the coming years. Illegal immigrants presently detained at Latvia's eastern border have to be transported to the detention center in Olaine, while asylum seekers are taken to the appropriate center in Mucenieki. By law, illegal immigrants and asylum seekers must be placed in separate facilities specifically designated for the purpose.

The government has approved draft amendments on stricter citizenship requirements. Under the new provisions, those candidates who have passed the centralized language and literature exam will be allowed to submit certificates attesting their Latvian skills at A, B or C level. D level certificates will no longer be accepted. The amendments were proposed after facts came to light that language skills of those citizenship candidates who had passed the centralized test and received D level certificates often do not meet the requirements set out for citizenship. The amendments will not apply retroactively.

Most of the Latvian tourists who sustained injuries in last week's bus crash in Italy were released from hospital, although three were still being treated by doctors as of Aug. 8. Maris Plumins, a representative of the University of Latvia Tourist Club, said a bus had been sent to Italy to pick up the rest of the Latvian tourists, who had been accommodated at a campsite near Venice. The club was considering sending a plane to bring the injured tourists to Latvia, but Plumins noted that all flights had been sold out for the moment. According to the preliminary investigation conducted by Italian police, the road accident near Milan was caused by a fuel truck that crashed into the Latvian tourist bus. There were 27 passengers and two drivers in the bus when the accident occurred.

The Zemgale Regional Court sentenced 15-year-old Deniss Gunkins to 11 years in prison for the murder of a five-year-old girl, Sintija, in Bauska. The girl was found beaten to death in a manhole near her house last October. Charges were brought against the youth for the murder of a person "in a state of helplessness." Gunkins pleaded not guilty and was unable to explain why he killed the little girl.