Embattled MP's aide found murdered

  • 2002-08-29
  • Jorgen Johansson
An aide to Social Democrat MP Imants Burvis was found murdered last week in the stairwell of his Riga residential building, police said.

Harijs Lavrinovics, 63, was attacked by three men on his way home Aug. 20, police said. Neighbors who heard a commotion in the central Riga building's stairwell called police, but by the time they arrived, Lavrinovics was already dead.

Aigars Berzins of the Riga central police said the three men - aged 38, 32 and 30 - had been arrested.

"They are currently under arrest and there is not much more I can say at this stage of the investigation," Berzins said, adding that police think the attack was related to a private rather than a political dispute.

The killers might have been out for revenge, he said.

"Witnesses said that the attackers were kicking him when he was down and that they poured vodka over his body afterwards," Berzins said.

Police have ruled out any connection to a decision by Latvian prosecutors earlier this month to charge Burvis with allegedly pocketing $15,000 from the Vudisona Terminals company meant as a donation to the Social Democratic Workers Party.

Burvis' legal troubles and accusations of bribery by party leader Juris Bojars led to an acrimonious split in the party, with Burvis and four other MPs defecting to form the Social Democrat Union.

The Bojars-led Social Democrat Workers Party retains nine seats in the 100-seat legislature.

The two parties are running separately in the Oct. 5 election.

Lavrinovics had been working as an aide for Burvis and police found one of the lawmaker's business cards in the dead man's pocket.

"Police called me and told me that they had found my card on Lavrinovics' body and that he was dead. There is not much more to say. He was an honest gentleman who worked with pensioners," Burvis said. "He also worked as my aide, but I cannot see how his death could be related to political activities."

Burvis said Lavrinovics was not to be included on the party's list of candidates for this October's parliamentary election.

"It is possible that this is related to his private life, but I could not say what," Burvis said. "This was an act of hooliganism that unfortunately had a lethal outcome."

The Social Democrat Union party currently has five seats in the Latvian Parliament.

Berzins ruled out the attack as random judging from the ages of the attackers, and maintained that the main theory police pursue at this stage is related to personal revenge.