Flower girl put under strong eye of mother

  • 2002-01-24
  • BNS
RIGA - A Latvian court has ruled to transfer schoolgirl Alina Lebedeva, who famously slapped Prince Charles' face with a flower, under the watchful eye not of the prison authorities but of her mother.

Riga Prosecutor's Office closed the criminal case of hooliganism against Lebedeva, 16, on Dec. 14 and sent the case to the capital's central district court to decide how to apply punishment.

The girl's lawyer, Aleksandrs Laivins, voiced satisfaction at the Jan. 21 ruling, and thanked both the prosecutor's office and Prince Charles for closure of the criminal case. He said the girl will have to remain under her mother's supervision for a year. But the term could be cut shorter.

Placing an under-age person under parental supervision in Latvian criminal legislation means the parents guarantee their child will not commit another offense, but rather devotes all mental energy to attending school and engaging in other "positive" activities.

"Alina will have to spend the next year or so with her mother, enjoy family life and behave well," Laivins explained.

"Forced educational measures" like these serve as a kind of warning to young people to refrain from anti-social activities. They can be applied on people aged 11 to 18, while the age of criminal responsibility in Latvia is 14.

Educational measures can be applied considering the nature of the offense and characteristics of the young offender. Lebedeva, a resident of Daugavpils, managed to evade reporters after the court ruling. Vladimirs Lindermans, leader of the organization Pobeda, regarded by many as the Latvian branch of Russia's radical National Bolsheviks, and several Pobeda members arrived at the court to greet Lebedeva with carnations and a poppy. Lindermans told reporters Lebedeva is not a member but supports its ideals.

Earlier, prosecutors wanted to make Lebedeva accountable for hooliganism, and at the initial stage a criminal case was opened into posing danger to the health and life of a foreign dignitary, which is punishable with up to 15 years in prison. The case against Lebedeva was opened after she slapped the Prince of Wales with a red carnation during his visit to Riga last November. She said she did so to protest against war in Afghanistan, in which Britain was also involved.

Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga apologized to the prince for the incident. He reacted with understanding and later asked the Latvian authorities not to call the girl to criminal responsibility.