The final effects of a Dec. 8 chemical spill in the Eastern Latvian town of Cesis are still unknown. During an intense storm in the early hours of Dec. 8, a crate full of empty bottles at the Cesis Brewery fell on and cracked a tank which held up to 12 tons of hydrochloric acid. An unknown amount of the deadly chemical spilled out onto the brewery parking lot. Nobody was injured as a result of the leak, and experts believe that environmental damage stemming from the accident will be minimal. A company watchman called the police at approximately 4 a.m. after noticing fumes emanating from the spilled acid.
The Latvian-language daily Diena reported on Dec. 6 that three kilograms of gold disappeared from Riga airport in late November. The missing gold is valued at about 30,000 lats (42,700 euros). Police began their investigation into the disappearance on Nov. 30. Diena sources said that the container was sealed when it arrived in Riga, and that it is still unknown how the gold was removed. This is the second time this year that a large amount of money has gone missing on a Riga flight 's last summer 1.2 million euros was stolen from a plane to Vienna.
The State Audit Office found on Dec. 7 that the Defense Ministry created a risk of misappropriating funds by failing to properly supervise its agencies' spending. The auditor's office said that the ministry did not stick to its medium-term budgetary planning. Moreover, the audit found that the ministry had failed to devise a long-term plan for the management of its various plots of real estate, leaving the door open for corruption. The audit also revealed irregularities in bookkeeping at the War Museum.
The Supreme Court on Dec. 10 overruled a lower court's conviction of Vladimirs Dalibs for the murder of a postal worker in 2005. The court upheld, however, the 15 year jail sentence which had been handed down to Vladimirs Krupenko, who confessed to the murder shortly after being caught. In July 2005 postal worker Marite Goremiko, 29, was murdered while distributing 789 lats (1,123 euros) worth of pension money. Krupenko initially claimed full responsibility for the crime, but later pointed to Dalibs as an accomplice. Dalibs denied having been involved in the crime but was convicted after failing a lie detector test.
In a statement released on Dec. 10 Cardinal Janis Pujats called on the three leading candidates for prime minister (see story this page) to clearly express their views on homosexuality. The statement asked if the candidates are "ready to defend the Latvian nation against the invasion of homosexuality in public life. Are they ready to block the way to the parliament to any bill that propagates immorality?" The statement went on to say that any candidate who does not take a strong stance on ethical issues, apparently referring to homosexuality, should not be allowed to take the post.