Russia's participation in war cases in Latvia to be negotiated

  • 2000-08-17
RIGA (BNS) - Latvian Prosecutor General Janis Maizitis planned Monday to talk with the officials of the Foreign Ministry on Aug. 14 about the possibility to invite the Russian representatives to the international working meeting on cases of Nazi war crime suspects Konrads Kalejs and Karlis Ozols, Rudite Abolina, the chief prosecutor, told BNS.

The meeting will take place on Sept. 14 to 15, and the invitation to join the meeting has been sent through the diplomatic channels to the following countries participating in the meeting - the United States, Australia, Great Britain, Germany and Israel. The participation of the Russian representatives is, however, also to be negotiated, since it has provided assistance in investigating the case by allowing the prosecutor to study the archive materials.

After the previous meeting that took place on Feb. 17, Russia voiced indignation when it was not invited for the first meeting on the matter, while the Latvian Prosecutor General's Office stated that Russia spoke too late of its wish to participate in the meeting, and it was not possible to coordinate it with the other participant countries.

Earlier, Russia did not reply to the Latvian prosecutor's office's requests and only after several criticisms for its refusal to cooperate, Russia sent the materials to Latvia and let the prosecutor study the archives in Russia.

During the meeting in September, it is planned to assess the cooperation after the previous meeting and to discuss whether the archive documents and other materials have detected new facts in the case investigation.

Abolina said that Kalejs can only be suspected of the crimes committed in the territory of Latvia, while there is no such information about Ozols.

According to available information, Ozols may have participated in Nazi crimes in Belarus and Russia.

In both criminal cases the prosecutor's office has questioned hundreds of witnesses who could testify about the past of Kalejs and Ozols. Charges have not yet been brought against either of them, although it has been predicted previously that charges could be brought against Kalejs who managed the guard in the concentration camp in Salaspils. Experts in the meeting on Feb. 17 reached an agreement on cooperation in investigating war crimes as well as on concluding the extradition agreement with Australia. Following the meeting, a representative of Latvia visited Great Britain to study archive materials while foreign experts discussed with Latvian prosecutor's office's officials the possibilities of pressing charges in analogous cases.

The Prosecutor Gene-ral's Office has sent to Australian authorities questions to which Kalejs, residing in Australia, should answer, but the response has not been received yet.

The prosecutor's office is investigating criminal cases in war crimes Latvians Ozols and Kalejs, both of them residing in Austarlia, may have committed during World War II.

Kalejs has been on several occasions kicked out of other countries, because he had not revealed the fact that he was a member of Arajs Kommando during World War II. Concerning Ozols' case, the Australian authorities conducted an investigation into possible war crimes committed by him but closed the case.