Latvian court finds ex-army chief not guilty

  • 2000-10-19
RIGA (BNS) - A Riga city court Oct. 11 found former Latvian army commander Juris Eihmanis not guilty of charges of abusing his position and wasting funds from the Home Guard budget for the repair of his apartment.

The court ruled that Eihmanis could not be held responsible for the refurbishment of the apartment because, while he was theoretically the commander of the National Armed Forces, he was not acting army commander at the time.

When the apartment was refurbished Eihmanis was in the United States for training, and hence could not issue illegal orders, the court said.

Eihmanis, currently a lecturer at the Baltic Defense College in Tartu, Estonia, told reporters he had expected the verdict and expressed gratitude to people who, despite a "two-year slander campaign", never ceased to believe in him. Eihmanis' lawyer Ugis Grube could not say yet whether proceedings would be launched asking compensation for moral damage and libel.

Prosecutor Andrejs Andrejevs told reporters he would decide in 10 days whether to appeal the ruling.

During court debates the prosecutor asked Eihmanis be sentenced to a suspended three year jail term and made to pay the 43,000 lats ($69,000) used to repair his apartment.

Eihmanis was charged with abuse of service position, an offense punishable with up to ten years in jail.

Eihmanis maintained his innocence and said during the pre-trial investigation, saying he believed the refurbishment was performed by his subordinates, responsible for repairs and finances, without notifying him about it.