Customs investigator targeted in bomb attack

  • 2007-05-23
  • Staff and wire reports
RIGA - The director of State Revenue Service's customs-related crime unit, Vladimirs Vaskevics, was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries after a car bomb went off in his Subaru Impreza May 21. He is now feared to be in serious condition having sustained fractures and burns. The blast occurred at around 5:43 p.m. in the Eksporta street area near the Customs Criminal Board building. In addition to medical workers, officers of the Organized Crime Enforcement Department and Omega anti-riot squad were immediately called to the scene.

The daily Diena reported that approximately 200 grams of TNT were used in the bomb. A number of experts surveyed concluded that the attack was most likely meant to intimidate Vaskevics. However, they noted that the amount of TNT used was "enough to blow up a house" if properly placed.
Investigators found that the damage patterns on the car indicate the bomb was placed in the back seat. If it was designed to kill it would most likely have been connected to the gas pedal or clutch, experts said.
In an interview with LNT television, State Revenue Service head Dzintars Jakans disagreed with the analysis, saying that the attack was not just meant to intimidate. Jakans said that Vaskevics approached his car, and then the bomb went off as he was putting some documents in the back seat.

When asked about the possible motives of the attack, Jakans said they were most probably linked to Vaskevics' professional activities. Organized criminals have been dealt a heavy blow recently, as large hauls of illegal cigarettes, fuel and drugs have been seized in Latvia, Jakans said.
Vaskevics was in charge of several important structures of the Latvian tax authority, including the Customs Criminal Board, which combats smuggling, as well as the Financial Police, which investigates tax evasion.
This was not the first time that Vaskevics has been subject to such attacks. Last May, a stolen Ford minivan blew up near his house. Then in June, someone attempted to set his car on fire. Police have begun a criminal investigation for attempted murder.