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Sunday 19.11.2017 | Name days: Liza, Līze, Elizabete, Betija
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Court rules in favour of Straujuma; declines Harmony’s appeal

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RURiga Regional Court has declined Harmony political party’s appeal in the claim against former Prime Minister of Latvia Laimdota Straujuma for her statements on the day of 12th Saeima elections.

With the decline of the appeal, it has been decided to enforce costs associated with reviewing the case – EUR 26.11 – and Straujuma’s expenses for legal services – EUR 363, as stated in the court’s ruling.

It is stated in the motive section that there is no reason to identify all statements made by officials as verified news and thereby deny them the right to express their opinion on topical matters. The court believes this would impede the democratic right of Latvian politicians to have voice their personal opinion, which is a right safeguarded by the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia. News report fact, whereas an opinion reflects one’s views on facts or events, as stated in the court’s ruling.

The ruling can be appealed within 30 days of publication of the full text – 6 September.

Riga Regional Court viewed Harmony’s claim against Straujuma in relation to her statements made on 4 October 2014. Riga City Zemgale District Court declined Harmony’s claim in September 2016. The party then submitted an appeal against this ruling.

On 4 October 2014, Straujuma told journalists the following: «Unity will win. I doubt Harmony will get enough votes, because security is highly important for our country. I personally have no confidence about Harmony and Latvia’s independence if they win.»

Harmony asked the court to recognize Straujuma’s statements that Latvia’s independence would allegedly be at risk if Harmony won Saeima elections as false and offensive. The party noted in its application that Straujuma is an official and experienced politician. With that, she should have considered her statements and their possible consequences more carefully.

The party notes that ‘false information was spread on election day, thereby indirectly inviting voters not to vote for Harmony’. According to the party, it can be concluded that Straujuma’s goal behind spreading such information was ruining Harmony’s reputation and getting good results at 12 Saeima elections.

The party also says that in her statements, Straujuma also attributed committing a criminal offence to the party, because threatening the independence of the Republic of Latvia is considered a crime against the state.

Starujuma, on the other hand, says that her statement in this particular case cannot be considered as news, but rather an opinion or commentary given in an interview to journalists. She added that the comment is Straujuma’s opinion of Harmony’s actions that created concerns in the current geopolitical situation.

The statement in question is not subject to verification because «it reflects a personal view of Harmony, not any specific data or facts,» said the former prime minister.

Ref: 224.109.109.5206


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