Radicals 'Perkonkrusts' handed prison time in blasts

  • 2000-06-01
RIGA (BNS) - The Riga District Court on May 30 considering the criminal case against members of Perkonkrusts paramilitary organization slapped punishments on nine defendants ranging from 1.5 years' suspended jail term to three years' actual imprisonment.

The court ruled to exact 21,000 lats ($34,482) from defendants who took part in blasting of the Victory Monument in Riga.

From the nine defendants, five were held under arrest pending the court ruling. From the five, three were released in the court room, including Andris Kiploks, Janis Ligeris and Harijs Radzins as they had already served their sentence. Andris Ligeris will have to remain in custody until September this year. Igors Siskins must serve until April 24, 2001.

The oldest member of the organization, Vilis Linins, born in 1928, was sentenced to 1.5 years in jail.

The court in the ruling changed the charge of the crime concerning blowing up the Victory Monument to damaging of a monument and not as damaging of an alien property which would have involved tougher punishments.

The court also released several members of the organization in episodes concerning beating up a private individual and taking him hostage in fall 1995 saying their guilt in the episode was not proved.

The court ruling did not recognize any of the defendants as leaders of the organization. Valdis Raups who was killed during the Victory Monument blasting and Juris Recs who was detained only early in May were cited as organizers of the crime.

None of the organization's members could say yet if they would appeal the sentence. The defendants only voiced dissatisfaction over the court's ruling to exact from them the amount of the civilian claim - 21,000 lats for the monument's damage and several thousands of lats for damage caused by other blasts.

Most of the defendants denied their guilt or regretted their actions, saying that upon joining the organization they did not know about the intentions of the organization's leaders to commit the crimes. Two of the defendants - Vilis Linins and Janis Ligeris - claimed they have not done anything wrong and do not regard themselves as criminals.

Most of them said they were forced to commit the crimes, because they were afraid of the organization's leader, Valdis Raups, who was one of the main organizers of the criminal actions.

The indictment said the defendants had on two occasions arranged blasts at heating company Rigas Siltums' centralized heat supply pipeline near Zemitani train station in Riga, on several occasions blasted the Victory Monument in suburban Riga as well as had attempted to arrange a blast at Latvenergo electricity utility company.

Prosecutor Georgs Skudra demanded a four-year term for one of the defendants and suspended sentences for two defendants.

The prosecutor demanded the four-year jail term for Andris Ligeris and suspended sentences for Aldis Bisans and Eduards Kumpins as the two had fully admitted their guilt and regretted their actions.

For other members of the organization, the prosecutor demanded jail terms of 1.5 to 3.5 years.