Lembergs stripped of mayoral duties

  • 2007-08-15
  • From wire reports
VENTSPILS - The council of the Latvian port city ofVentspils is to hold an extraordinary sitting on Wednesday or Thursdayto consider its next move after the surprise suspension of Aivars Lemebergs as the town's mayor.

The Ventspils municipal press service said the local authority hasreceived a ruling from the prosecutor's office setting additionalrestrictions on Lembergs while his trial on fraud charges continues. The conditions included a ban on holding the posts of Ventspilsmayor and head of the free port - a decision that some will say is long overdue.

The local authority said it is planning to "call an extraordinary meetingof the city council to assess the present situation".

Latvia's LNT commercial television reported Tuesday night that theProsecutor General's Office has banned Lembergs from holding the posts ofVentspils mayor and chairman of Ventspils free port administration.

Lembergs, who stands accused of large scale money laundering amongst other things, is currently under house arrest at his property in Puze. He has alreadyspent three months in custody before being placed under house arrest, originally at hisVentspils apartment.

Throughout the period of his trial, Lembergs has protested his innocence and refused to relinquish his mayoral responsibilities. He retains a considerable level of public support in Ventspils.

Ventspils' first deputy Janis Vitolins, Lembergs immediate deputy in the mayor's office, could not be contactedfor comments, as he is reportedly on holiday until the end of August.