Lembergs gets house arrest switch

  • 2007-08-10
  • From wire reports
RIGA - Riga Regional Court ruled Aug 9 to keep mayor of Ventspils Aivars Lembergs under house arrest. However, Lembergs won his battle to make his place of confinement his house at Puze rather than his Ventspils apartment.

The prosecutor's office again moved a proposal to detain the mayor of Ventspils in custody, and alleged that since July 10 when the court ruled on his house arrest, Lembergs has breached the rules of his confinement by contacting several individuals without permission, possibly in attempts to influence the ongoing fraud charges against him.

The prosecutor did not disclose the names of the people Lembergs is alleged to have contacted, and said that the Ventspils police department could not be held responsible for any breaches that may have happened.

Lembergs failed to attend the hearing, citing backache. The prosecutor argued that this was not sufficient reason to stay away.

Lembergs' lawyer Aivo Leimanis denied that Lembergs had contacted people without permission, saying: "These are only the prosecutor's allegations without particular documentary proof." The court did not find that Lembergs had impeded the investigation, added Leimanis.

Lembergs is still undergoing treatment and has been issued a temporary employment incapacity certificate.

The mayor of Ventspils told journalists before the court ruling that he had not breached any court restrictions.

"I have not breached anything as no restrictions were imposed on me. Prohibition and restriction are not synonyms. The prosecutor had to ask the investigation judge to decide on the level of restriction, but it has not been sent to me," said Lembergs.

Lembergs was originally detained on March 14 in connection with a large-scale corruption investigation among Ventspils officials. He has been charged with fraud, extortion, money laundering and providing false income declarations.