Justice minister 'rethinks' death penalty

  • 2008-09-04
  • TBT Staff

Berzins said that, "as a father," he had considered reinstating the death penalty (Photo Courtesy of the Ministry of Justice)

RIGA 's TheLatvian Justice Minister has called into question the "usefulness" ofabolishing the death penalty.

In an interview with Latvian Public Radio on Thursday,Justice Minister Gaidis Berzins said that "as a father" he had considered thepossibility of renewing the death penalty for perpetrators of violent crimesagainst children.

The minister also said, however, that he knew it would beimpossible to follow through with the motion because of Latvia'sobligations in the European Union. 

"I understand that it is the issue related with deathpenalty and our obligations concerning accession to the European Union, but asa father I would like to say that such people have no place in the society," hesaid.

Berzins said it would not be useful to open a debate on thetopic because of the country's international obligations.

The minister made the comments when asked about a recentcase in which a father brutally murdered his 11-year-old daughter.

Daina, a student of the BauskaChristianElementary School,was found in her bed with her throat slashed on the morning of Sept. 27. Herfather, Ivars Grantins, confessed to committing the crime three dayslater. 

Investigators have announced that they would requestpsychiatric tests for Grantins, who has already been tried twice for sex crimesand once for physical assault.

Police are currently searching for Daina's mother, whoreportedly left the country to find work after losing a custody battle for thegirl. The Baltic News Service reported that a criminal investigation has beenlaunched over her disappearance.

Latvia effectively abolished capital punishment in 1996 's nobody has been given thedeath penalty and no executions have taken place in the country since thattime.

Under the Penal Law, however, the capital punishment can still be given inwartime, and even then criminals can only be sentenced to execution by shootingonly for aggravated murder.

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