Court freezes assets of popular current affairs magazine in Latvia

  • 2014-07-31
  • From wire reports, RIGA

Current affairs magazine Ir

A court has ordered an asset freeze of one of Latvia's most popular current affairs magazines, 'Ir'.

Riga Central District Court announced today it would freeze assets worth 22,979 euros of Cits Medijs, who publish Ir.

The court orders come after a petition was filed by insolvency administrator Maris Spruds who claims a series of articles published by the magazine were in defamation of his character.

Cits Medijs board member Gundega Grinberga told the court decision was an "attack on freedom of speech that a democratic country should never tolerate."

"This is the first time in Latvian court practice we know of where a lawsuit against a medium over defamation of character results in the court ordering the publisher's assets frozen - even though the case has not been reviewed yet and therefore no one knows if the lawsuit has is justified," said Grinberga.

Ir editor in chief Nellija Locmele called the court decision absurd and a parody.

"There is no chance Sprudzs could win the case, which is why he is playing for time and trying to do as much harm to "Ir" as he can," said Locmele.

"This parody of rule of law proves how direly the Latvian judicial system needs reforms. There are also plans to reform the insolvency administration system, but these reforms are being hampered regularly," 

The court decision follows Spruds' claim in a civil case conerning an article "Insolvency Kitchen" printed in the magazine "Ir" in September 2012.

The case was opened already in December 2012, however, the court has still not reviewed it.

The publisher says Ir will still be printed whilst it will try to to overturn the court decision.

It's not the first time Ir has been sued for libel. Former insolvency administrator Aigars Lusis, now an employee at the Justice Ministry also sued the magazine. The case has not been reviewed.