Car bomb target points finger

  • 2007-08-07
  • By Talis Saule Archdeacon
RIGA - State Revenue Service Customs Criminal Board head Vladimirs Vaskevics made a series of statements on Aug. 2 and 6 about the identity of attackers involved in a May 21 attempt on his life.

Vaskevics made the accusations in interviews with the Russian newspapers Cas and Telegraf. During the interviews, he pointed to a number of individuals and organizations as having played a part in the car bomb attack.

In his Aug. 2 interview with the Russian language daily Cas, Vaskevics accused Latvian businessman Raimonds Stalbergs of organizing the attack. "If the minister is speaking about it, I do not see any need in keeping it secret. I think Stalbergs is involved in the case. Although I doubt that he was alone. I think he could not organize such a murder attempt alone. I would like to underscore that in my opinion it is not a simple murder attempt, but terrorism," he said.

The daily noted that Stalbergs is suspected of extortion of 7 million euros from Inara Vilkaste, Vaskevics' former wife. Interior Minister Ivars Godmanis has mentioned Stalbergs as possibly having been involved in the bombing of Vaskevics car.

In an Aug 6 interview with the Russian language daily Telegraf, Vaskevics then listed a number of other organizations that he believes were involved. He said that he believes that the "criminal world rooted in state officials" are the real culprits behind the attack, adding that "some printed media" assisted in the attack. He went on to accuse the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau of having a role in the attack, saying that it is possible the criminal circles involved passed rumors on to the organization at the time of the attack.

Vaskevics also revealed during the interview that he had received threatening messages on his mobile phone sometime before the bombing attempt. "I received threats in an SMS message on my cell phone. I must admit that almost all threats were fulfilled. Professional work," Vaskevics said.

In a reaction to the statements, representatives of the state police service told The Baltic Times that the criminal investigation into the bombing would not be affected by Vaskevics' statements to the media.

"He can tell [them] whatever he wants to tell [them], but in this case we have our own investigation. Of course we will listen to whatever he has to say to the police, but what he says to the media is his own business," they said. The police refused to provide any further comments due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.

State revenue service head Dzintars Jakans said shortly after the bombing that the motive behind the attack was most likely his professional work, as large amounts of cigarettes, fuel and drugs were apprehended before the attack. Vaskevics, however, denied that this theory is a possibility in his interview with Cas.

Vaskevics was rushed to hospital on May 21 after a bomb went off in his Subaru while he was placing documents in the back seat. Approximately 200 grams of TNT were used in the attack, an amount that experts say would have been enough to "blow up a house" if used properly. Experts said that the bomb was probably not intended to kill the customs official.

Immediately following the attack he was in a serious condition with numerous fractures and burns, but is now recovering from the injuries. "I was recently discharged from the hospital. I am on rehabilitation at present. I am trying to do everything to regain my shape," he said in his Aug 2 interview.