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Monday 20.02.2017 | Name days: Smuidra, Vitauts, Smuidris
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Austria refuses to extradite Vaskevics to Latvia

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUAustria has refused to hand over former Latvian customs official Vladimir Vaskevics to Latvia. Vaskevics is accused of bribery and influencing witnesses. Latvia’s Prosecutor General’s Office received this information from Austrian colleagues in August.

Vaskevics’ health does not allow him to stand before court and listen to charges raised against him, as reported by Nekā personīga programme of TV3.

Vaskevics’ wife, meanwhile, continues claiming that the Latvian state continues hounding them. MEP Andrejs Mamikins supports this version as well.

On the run from Latvian authorities, Vaskevics has made a step further to protect his rights. A film has been produced to tell his story. Mamikins plans to present it at the European Parliament next week.

Mamikins claims he is not defending Vaskevics. Polish film director Andrzej Tarkowski-Kiliszewski turned to him with a request to show his film ‘Inconvenient Vaskevics’. The film is based on Inara Vilkaste’s boon with the same title.

The book was published in 2015. In it, Vaskevics is described as an honest customs officer and fighter of contraband. Inara’s former husband, Raimonds Stalbergs, and officers of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau are described as ‘the bad guys’. A lot of attention is provided to Juta Strike and Juriss Jurass in this book. Several pages mention Jurass’ card being found in Stalbergs’ possession. The book also mentions that KNAB officials may have been involved in undermining Vaskevics’ reputation. Even Ilze Janualksnes’ telephone conversations had been tapped intentionally, to cast a shadow on Vaskevics.

All this has inspired the Polish film director to shoot a film. The film’s budget is USD 30,000. The director covered the expenses on his own. Vilkaste only paid for the plane tickets to Riga. Organization of the film’s presentation in Brussels was assisted by Vilkaste. The film has been submitted for multiple film festivals and has received awards in several of them.

Vilkaste fights for her husband’s good name internationally. Four years ago, during President Andris Berzins visit to Chicago, Vaskevics managed to convince American lawyer Thomas Canepa and US Senator Daniel Lipinski to turn to US State Secretary Hilary Clinton with a request to review whether or not there should be any support provided to the defence of a country that unjustifiably persecutes Vilkaste and Vaskevics.

Five years ago, Riga was visited by a group of US lobbyists who wished to meet with Valdis Dombrovskis and Ainars Latkovskis.

Justice for Inara public organization has been founded in Austria. It is managed by former Secretary General of the European Council Walter Schwimmer. It has yet to yield any results in Latvia, however. Two criminal processes have been launched against Vaskevics in Latvia. One criminal case covers the bribery involving Customs Office’s manager Talis Kravalis and the other – the bribery attempt of a witness. The criminal cases are not making progress because Vaskevics is not in Latvia.

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