Teen detained after tragic death

  • 2002-05-16
  • Jorgen Johansson

Police officials have detained a 14-year-old boy in connection with the death of a 12-year-old girl whose body was found in a river in the small southeastern Latvian town of Birzi.

Her body was found undressed in the small river that flows through the town after she disappeared on May 5 from a boarding school both children attended.

"We do not suspect that this murder had anything to do with sex," said state police spokesman Krists Leiskalns. "The girl was strangled with a small piece of rope, but there were no marks on her throat."

Leiskalns revealed few details about the case but added that the investigation was unlikely to last long.

The detained boy was one of a number of children attending the school, who have learning difficulties.

Following the incident the school's head teacher Inguna Levane tendered her resignation, but the Jekabpils Regional Council declined to accept it and instead issued her a warning.

"I guess I'll continue to work," she said. "Of course I feel bad about what happened. But there's not much I can do now."

Levane said the 14-year-old was only in the fifth grade at the boarding school and that he has shown he may have learning disabilities.

Silvija Vecumniece, spokeswoman for the Jekabpils Regional Council, said the tragic incident in Birzi had left its mark on people in the region.

"I think this is the first case a teenager in our region has been involved in this kind of crime," she said. "This is a boarding school with children from family conditions that are not so favorable, and some of these children might not get enough love at home."