Latvija in brief - 2009-02-25

  • 2009-02-25
The Riga Regional Court has given a life sentence to a man charged with murdering his mother and stepfather. This is the first life sentence passed by the Latvian courts this year, reported the Court Administration. Andrejs Pokidovs, 29, was charged with murdering his mother and stepfather and starting a fire in their apartment to conceal his crime. The two victims died of multiple cut wounds. The investigation established that the motive for the murders was the mother's credit card, which had approximately 700 lats (1,000 euro) on it. Judge Guntars Sturis told reporters that the defendant had a previous criminal record. He had been convicted twice 's once for theft and once for robbery. The medical experts had concluded that the man was fit to stand trial but was slightly mentally retarded, with strong behavioral disturbances dominated by anger and satisfaction of his own needs. There are about 50 convicts serving life sentences in Latvia.

The State Revenue Service's Finance Police working with the Estonian police have thwarted the second money laundering scheme of 2009. The crimes were mostly committed in Riga, Valmiera and Cesis. The money launderers included a group of nine people using several real companies and 12 fictitious companies in the laundering ring. They are believed to have laundered 3.3 million lats (4.6 million euro). A former finance police employee was the head of one of the buffer companies. The money laundering ring has reportedly cost the national budget nearly 500,000 lats. The sentence for the perpetrators is five to 12 years in prison.

A museum in Vainode, Latvia has been robbed of several valuable artifacts. Museum's head Alda Pruse told BNS that the thief took several items donated by former victims of the Stalin regime, a firefighter's helmet, old photo cameras, and a pair of binoculars from World War I. An old Bible and a 90-year old bear-shaped bottle are also among the exhibits that have disappeared from the museum. Pruse said that the museum has asked police to put bars on windows and doors, but that nothing has been done yet. The total loss is estimated at thousands of lats. The museum in Vainode is located in an old railway station building.

The Latvian State Fire and Rescue Service may be forced to lay off 690 employees on April 1. In total, the State Fire and Rescue Service needs an additional 1.52 million lats to continue operating a full capacity. The service reported that if they do not lay off some percentage of employees, they will run out of funds with which to pay employees by April. The Latvian Interior Ministry has submitted amaendments lifting the 10 percent freeze on the Latvian security services budget to the government.