• 2001-10-18
The latest killing of a high-ranking state official - this time a senior judge at Riga's Regional Court, Janis Laukroze, has shocked society and put judges around the country on high alert.

It comes after the killing this June of the Ludza customs chief Vjaceslavs Liscovs and that of Latvian spirit businessman Dainis Peimanis last December.

And a little more than a year has passed since two explosions blasted through RIMI supermarket in Riga's Old Town, killing one and injuring more than 30 people in the first act of terror against civilians in Latvia's recent history. Little wonder people are shocked and appalled that no one has been brought to justice.

In all these cases Latvian police and law enforcement officials said solving the crimes was a matter of dignity. In the Liscovs case a suspect has been arrested and charges pressed. In Peimanis' case, two suspects will remain in custody till the end of October, but a third was recently released. But in the RIMI bombing case no motives, suspects or charges have appeared.

In Peimanis' case it can be seen that someone has really benefited from his death. His company Jaunpagasts Plus was just about to receive state guarantees for the construction of a new bioethanol plant and which might have challenged the positions of existing spirit producers and smugglers. Now, no one talks about Jaunpagasts Plus or the bioethanol factory. Latvijas Balzams, once Jaunpagasts' largest customer, has been sold to a Russian company and has chosen different suppliers thus forcing Peimanis' company out of business.

And we all need to know who these "someones" are if we are to ensure no one else comes to a similar end. Otherwise Latvia may come to resemble some of its not-so-distant neighbors where unwanted people are dealt with by a few bullets. If the police aren't able to catch those behind such attacks, the unscrupulous will assume it is cheaper to hire a killer than to bribe a stubborn official.

For the sake of their dignity the Latvian police should get their act together quickly this time.