Severe prison sentences for gaming hall robbers

  • 2012-12-20

RIGA - Today, the Zemgale Regional Court sentenced six persons involved in last year's high profile armed robbery in Jekabpils to lengthy prison sentences.

Former “Alfa” special unit police officer Arvo Zagars has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Two former police officers from the Tukums Police Department - Deniss Hristoforidi and his brother Pavels Hristoforidi, were sentenced to 20 and 18 years in prison respectively.

Former “Alfa” special unit police officer Leonids Konuhovs was sentenced to 13 years in prison, while civilians Stanislavs Babelis and Edgars Paruskins also received 13 years in prison.

The court also seized their property.

All sentenced will now have 10 days to appeal their sentences.

The prosecutor on the criminal had demanded life sentences for both Arvo Zagars and Deniss Hristoforidi. Zagars is believed to have taken the fatal shots that killed police captain Andris Znotins, while D.Hristoforidi charged for his involvement in the robbery, as well as other robberies and crimes committed in the past.

Zagars, the Hristoforidi brothers, Konuhovs and Babelis previously pleaded guilty to the robbery charge, but denied shooting police officers.

As reported, after an armed robbery at a “Fenikss” gambling hall in Jekabpils (eastern Latvia) on the early morning of Jan. 25, 2011, the gang took a total of 104,000 lats (148,000 euros) and left the scene in a "Chrysler Voyager".

The police were pursuing the criminals a short while later, and eventually cornered the gang. A shootout ensued, in which police captain Andris Znotins was killed and another two police officers were injured. Also, three out of five gang members were injured in the shootout.

It later turned out that four of the robbers were police officers - Zagars and Konuhovs served in the "Alfa" special unit, and another two - the Hristoforidi brothers - in State Police's Tukums Department.

The gang has also been charged with a number of crimes committed in Jurmala and Tukums from 2008 to 2010, including thefts, robberies, extortion and others.