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Latvian Saeima conceptually approves amendments in criminal proceedings

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On July 5, Saeima conceptually approved amendments in criminal proceeding during the first reading on the second emergency meeting. These amendments provide for the right for both the defender and prosecutor to present additional evidence during Court hearings.

Supplementing the articles of the law on procedural rights in trials, the proposed changes provide for criminal defense counsel and the prosecutor the right to request in writing from individuals and legal entities any relevant documents and information on the facts for use in criminal proceedings. Also, it is planned to clarify how the prosecutor, victim, accused and his defendant will be allowed to file in requests to the Court for providing additional evidence to a given case, Saeima Press Service reports.

«Keeping in mind the diametrically opposing views that were voiced by highly qualified lawyers of the Judicial Commission during the meeting, the commission decided to ask all involved sides to express their written opinions and to provide alternative suggestions for this problem. After evaluating them, the Saeima and the commission will be able to decide what to do next,»- explains Chairwoman of the Judicial Commission Ilma Cepane.

As the authors of the draft law note, current Court regulations concerning additional evidence are not clear enough, and neither prosecutor nor defendant has the right to ask some third party for information and facts that can be of use in some specific case. Therefore, these amendments will promote a fair settlement of criminal law and will guarantee both the defendant and prosecutor a chance to bring in additional evidence during Court hearings.

The Saeima will still need to decide the fate of these amendments in the second and third reading.

It was previously reported that after tough discussions the Saeima Judicial Commission approved the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law for viewing in the first reading on June 19. These amendments were also negatively commented by Aivars Lembergs, who is being accused of serious crimes.

Lembergs’ fear for these amendments is well justified. So far there have been 224 Court hearings on the so called Lembergs’ criminal proceedings at the Riga District Court. In 2009, there were 45 Court hearings, 54 – in 2010 and 82 in 2011. This year (2012), parties involved in the Lembergs’ case have already met 43 times at Court. The case combines two criminal proceedings in around 140 volumes, which were handed over to the Court in the second half of 2008.

The Prosecutor’s Office accuses Lembergs of the very large scale bribery, money and other assets laundering, counterfeiting of service, for participation in property that was forbidden for him given his post, as well as an abuse of official position and other crimes. His son – Anrijs Lembergs – is accused along with him.

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