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Judges manage to beat wiretap rap

  • 2007-12-12
  • Staff and wire reports
RIGA - The Prosecutor General's Office announced on Dec. 7 that it uncovered numerous ethical violations but would not press charges against judiciary officials whose conversations several years ago with a prominent law firm were wiretapped and published earlier this year.
The office said that prosecutors, who were asked to probe transcripts of the wiretap, had uncovered two clear offenses during their investigation.
"Two cases were found to have been decided without proper legal grounds. The decision for one of these cases was ungrounded, and the other decision was made out of the courtroom," a press release from the office said.

Still, the evidence was not strong enough to open a criminal investigation. Moreover, the prosecutor's office said the illegal rulings were not made deliberately, and as such there are no grounds for a criminal procedure against the judges involved.
The prosecutor's office found that a total of 42 cases were mentioned in the transcripts, which covered more than 100 telephone conversations.
The probe found ethical violations on the part of two Supreme Court judges and five Riga Regional Court judges for discussing proceedings of a closed court session and failing to fulfill their duties in a fair and objective manner.

Corruption in Latvia's judiciary was thrown into the spotlight when journalist Lato Lapsa published a book 's titled "Tiesasanas Ka Kekis" (Litigation as a Kitchen) 's which contained recorded phone conversations between lawyer Andris Grutups and judges.
In those conversations, Grutups 's whose name, along with the surnames of all the other interlocutors, was changed slightly in the book 's allegedly gave advice to judges on the outcome of ongoing court cases.
By scouring phone records provided by Lattelecom, prosecutors were only able to establish that conversation did indeed take place. The press office said there are no audio recordings and thus it was unable to verify the content of the phone calls.

The Prosecutor General's Office has sent the results of its probe to the justice minister, Supreme Court chairman and acting chairman of the Riga Regional Court to decide on what actions to take with the judges.
The acting chairman of the Riga Regional Court, Juris Stukans, said he would reveal his opinion on the report at a future date, while the Supreme Court will analyze the report at its plenary session on Dec. 19.