VILNIUS - The Lithuanian Supreme Court on Feb. 10 dismissed the appeal of Latvian cyclist Juris Silovs, who was convicted for an attempt to bring in a large amount of undeclared money to the country. As a result of the ruling, the money the famous Latvian cyclist had with him, which had not been declared at the customs as stipulated by law, will not be returned.
Supreme Court decisions are final and not subject to appeal.
The only recourse left for Silovs is a presidential pardon, observers said.
Silovs' lawyer Algimantas Dziegoraitis told journalists that once he had the Supreme Court's ruling, he would consider the further possibilities of the case of the Latvian cyclist.
Dziegoraitis reiterated that Silovs had harmed neither Lithuania's economy nor its security. "This money was earned by fair and hard work, and bank documents confirm it," he said.
The Prosecutor General's Office has asked to withhold the sentence and dismiss the appeal. "Indeed, he carried money that he had earned himself, but he violated the rules," prosecutor Daiva Skorupskaite said.
The money Silovs had with him in the fall of 2001 when he entered the country from Poland by car was his pay for a season in a professional cycling club in France. The Latvian carried a total of 265,000 litas (77, 000 euros) in various currencies.
On Aug. 20 last year, the Lithuanian Court of Appeals found Silovs guilty of smuggling currency but did not imprison him, imposing a fine of 25,000 litas and seized the undeclared money that he had with him. The court decided to keep the confiscated 265,000 litas in various currencies and seize his two cars.
The Latvian cyclist claimed he did not know about the need to declare an amount of over 10,000 litas when crossing the border. The court dismissed the explanation as ungrounded as Silovs had crossed the border on more than 10 occasions prior to the incident.
Silovs had to spend several months in prison after a Kaunas court had sentenced him to five years in prison on April 11, 2002. The court also imposed a fine and ruled confiscation of his property.
Silovs appealed against the court ruling and was released on a bail of 20,000 litas, which was paid by the Lithuanian National Olympic Committee. The Court of Appeals later decided to return the bail money to the committee.
The Latvian cyclist did not participate in the sitting of the Supreme Court in Vilnius. Ieva Bilmane, the Latvian Embassy's first secretary for consular matters, watched the hearing. She has said that the embassy has followed the course of the case from the very beginning.
"A Pole [and] an Estonian could also have found themselves in such situation," said Bilmane. The diplomat expressed regret that Silovs had got into such unpleasant situation.