Operatives of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (CPCB) detained the Chairman of Riga City Zemgale Suburb Court on August 7, according to information from LETA.
Even though the name of the detainee is not talked about, information at tiesas.lv states that this court is led by Ziedonis Strazds.
CPCB Press Representative Ieva Kucika confirmed that CPCB operatives have detained some Chairman of Riga City District Court. During the investigation, there were also several searches and other criminal procedures carried out.
Criminal proceedings were initiated against two judges in relation to abuse of office for acquiring property in connection with a bogus court employees and the use of finances on their bank accounts.
It was determined during pre-court investigations that have been several individuals that were fictitiously employed at Riga City District Court for several years. These individuals did not actually work at the court, but they were being paid salaries. On top of that, it is possible that the Chairman of the court is somehow involved in this.
Documents of the criminal case state that Chairman of the court, using his authority for selfish reasons, instigated several people to register fictitious employment relationships to be able to use the salaries of the said fictitious employees. Also, according to the evidence the CPCB uncovered, there are good reasons to believe that this criminal activity was, probably, supported by some other District Court Chairman.
Given the lawful immunity of judges, the decision on the initiation of criminal proceedings was made by the acting Latvian Prosecutor General after he evaluated the materials the CPCB submitted, while the decision to detain the two judges and perform searches against them was made by the especially authorized judge of the Supreme Court.
No detailed information is currently being released in the interest of the investigation.
The CPCB notes that no one is considered guilty, until the guilt of a criminal offense is found in full accordance with the order stated in the Law on Criminal Procedure.
It is reported that CPCB operatives performed procedural steps at the Riga District Court (RDC) and Riga City Zemgale Suburb Court, according to the information from LETA.
RDC Chairwoman Sandra Strence confirmed that CPCB operatives performed a search at one of RDC judges on Wednesday. The reason for this action is not related to the investigation of any current cases or the said judge’s work. The reason was due to personal motives.
According to Stence’s information, the judge is as though being suspected of supporting the breaking of the law, which is related to abuse of power.
Stence noted that court activities were not affected by this «visit» from the CPCB. The judge was called in to the CPCB to be interviewed. He in incriminated with Section 318 and section 20 of the Criminal Law – for a person who, being a State official, commits intentional acts using his or her official position in bad faith.
Strence said that the court continues its work, even though this fact is quite unpleasant. Nevertheless, she understands perfectly well that human factors are not to be ruled out in anyone’s work.
As confirmed by Justice Minister Janis Bordans, CPCB operatives performed searches at some the home of a Chairman of Riga City Zemgale Suburb Court. Bordans says that «unfortunately this act is related to work». He also said that a judge is 24/7 judge, like any police officer or prosecutor.
The fact that an unfair person has been uncovered in such a high ranking justice institutions is an unpleasant fact, says the minister. Nonetheless, he hopes that this event will contribute to cleaning the court system from dishonest judges.
Bordans says the situation is «very serious». Chairman of the Supreme Court Ivars Bickovics returns from his vacation on Monday, August 13, and the minister will try meeting with him to discuss this case. Bordans planned on going on an unpaid vacation next week, but in the light of today’s events he decided to call off his planned vacation. The minister promised the offer especial attention to this issue.
The minister believes that along with the resignation of dishonest judges, society’s trust towards the court system will grow, and increase the courts’ prestige.
Riga City Zemgale Suburb Court Deputy Chairwoman Aiga Freimane declined giving any comments on the actions of CPCB operatives. She said that she did not receive any information about the activities of the bureau’s operatives.