In the crucial oligarch criminal case against Aivars Lembergs, the court at times lacks courage and will to decide issues on their merits regarding, for example, keeping the accused from counteracting the investigation, state prosecutors Juris Juriss and Aivis Zalužiskis evaluate.
In part two of the interview with Latvian daily Latvijas Avīze (LA) published on July 7, the two prosecutors working on the case admit they have felt during investigation counteraction at all levels – from a press outlet partially representing information to pushing for certain laws in the political arena.
«This might be the first case, in which witnesses have fairly openly told, where decisions on issues significant to the state have been made, including transit issues, and how far the decisions have been distanced from the personal interests of certain state officials,» Zalužinskis said.
Prosecutors continued by noting: «To our minds, the danger lies not only in the fact that a person continues to fulfil duties that have been banned to the person, but also in the aspect that the mechanism was used at a time, when questioning of witnesses was being actively conducted. To our minds, it was unacceptable that witnesses were facing the same circumstances that they had to face prior to the criminal proceedings, namely, witnesses could feel the use of official duties in issues important to them, even though the person was at the time banned from using them by a security measure.»
«Therefore we submitted to the court a request to change the security measure barring the accused from being present in certain places, to keep the person at a certain distance from Ventspils City Council and the Free Port,» prosecutors explained to LA.
Zalužinskis noted that the court, at times, simply lacks courage or will to make decisions on their merits. Prosecutors in the case had evidence, based on written statements by several councilpersons of the Ventspils City Council, that the accused had been counteracting the criminal proceedings, violating the security measure, by in fact fulfilling his duties and using his power as the chairman of the City Council [after he had been suspended from office].
«If the accused is violating the security measure he is subjected to, he can be subjected to a tougher security measure – police surveillance (..), house arrest and even detention. The state prosecution in court, however, is only able to make requests; it is the court that decides. We have to respect the decisions,» Zalužinskis noted.
The prosecutor continues by evaluating that Lembergs has shown more disrespect in court than drug dealers, smugglers and criminal gang leaders.
«There are times, when lack of self-restraint can be witnessed from the part of the accused in the court, when he addresses others by saying «you» or «know your place», or calls the prosecutor «a boy»,» said Zalužinskis, adding that Lembergs has received numerous procedural sanctions for violating the order of a court hearing – «countless warnings and a fine».
«This case has the weight of case law as to what a state official can permit himself doing. Until now, it was accepted that offshore companies can be founded abroad and a whole chain of companies can be built, with the real beneficiary standing at the end of it, who as if doesn’t have to declare his income. If the court will agree with the position of the prosecution, the judgment will be a signal that you cannot act this way,» Zalužinskis assessed.
Fellow prosecutor Juriss added that there is a simple idea behind all the structures – to withdraw money earned by companies in Latvia and to deposit it for private needs abroad.
Both judgment and punishment are unavoidable in the case, prosecutor Zalužinskis stressed in the interview with LA.