Latvija in brief - 2008-08-06

  • 2008-08-06
Former national basketball team member Kaspars Kambala has announced that he will return to the sport after finishing his two year suspension in December. Kambala failed a doping test in December 2006 after allegedly using cocaine before a match. Kambala, who played for the Turkish club Fenerbahce-Ulker, was given a 24 month suspension by the International Basketball Federation. He went on to start a relatively successful career as a professional boxer, winning three and drawing one of the four bouts he fought. Kambala has now reportedly quit boxing and resumed basketball training.

A high-tension police shoot out with three armed robbers has resulted in one death, police representatives said. The prominent Omega anti-terrorist squad exchanged shots with the men after they robbed a Dinaz petrol station in the central Latvian city of Iecava at 7:00 a.m. on Aug. 1. One of the suspects was shot during the exchange and rushed to Bauska hospital, where he died of his wounds. The men were found with a white substance that police assume is cocaine. An employee of the petrol station was wounded during the robbery, but he was taken to the hospital and remains in stable condition. As the economic situation continues to deteriorate, armed robberies are becoming an increasing problem.

President Valdis Zatlers is set to meet with both Chinese President Hu Jintao and Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet during his trip to the Olympic Games in Beijing. The Latvian president will attend the Games between Aug. 6 and 14, where he will both support the athletes and hold bilateral discussions with the two Asian leaders. He also plans to meet with Vsevolods Zelonijs, who will compete in the judo tournament on August 11, and cyclist Raivis Belohvosciks, who will participate in the group cycling competition on August 9.

Prosecutor Juris Juriss has sent the official charges leveled against Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs to the Supreme Court. The charges include extorting and accepting several bribes worth some 239,670 lats (314,021 euros) in exchange for his cooperation in the municipal government. He is also charged with helping to launder 4,916,900 lats, drafting false documents and participating in property transactions motivated by personal gain. He has been kept under house arrest since July 2007, though an earlier victory for his legal team saw him able to change the place of his incarceration from his Ventspils flat to his spacious country house. Lembergs was detained on March 14, 2007, in connection with the so-called Ventspils corruption case involving numerous public officials in the port city.

The Security Police have said that skinhead and Nazi activity is decreasing in the country following a series of arrests. The police also warned, however, that the National Bolshevik Party could soon organize a series of campaigns to regain public attention. The comments came following a report on the results of their work during the first half of 2008. Police have managed to disband two major skinhead groups earlier this year.