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Monday 17.02.2020 | Name days: Konstance, Donats
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Aivars Lembergs picks ex-prime minister’s freelance advisor Grudulis as his lawyer for debates

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Aivars Lembergs, court, lawyer, complaints, bribery

Aivars Lembergs

The suspended Mayor of Ventspils Aivars Lembergs, who is also accused of committing serious crimes and is under US sanctions, has picked once the prime minister of Latvia Māris Kučinskis’ freelance advisor Māris Grudulis as his lawyer for debates in court, as was announced in court on Thursday, 23 January.

Grudulis has said he is prepared to commence his speech but added he will need time to prepare. The court, on the other hand, mentioned that before debates can begin, state-appointed lawyer Genādijs Ivankins will need to conclude his speech.

The judges presiding over the case also mentioned they do not believe Lembergs and allowed that the choice of the new lawyer could be used to prolong the process.

It is because of this possibility the court decided to keep Ivankins as Lembergs’ primary lawyer. Grudulis, on the other hand, may read his speech about the 19 episodes for which his defence contract has been signed.

Grudulis had previously defended Lembergs in a criminal procedure.

Grudulis gained wide publicity for developing the infamous mutatis mutandis amendments. The amendments Union of Greens and Farmers (ZZS) had submitted to the Saeima in 2008 were intended to narrow the term of illegally obtained funds in the Law on Criminal Process. They received bashing from New Era party, which stated the amendments would benefit Lembergs, who was ZZS’s prime minister candidate.

The previous composition of the court did not accept Lembergs’ submitted rejection of Ivankins and the lawyer’s own request to be disassociated from the case, the court explains.

Court representative Raimonds Ločmelis notes that at the previous court session Ivankins was prepared to continue reading his speech, but Lembergs objected against it and submitted his request. The court considered it an attempt to prolong the court process.

The team of judges decided to reject Lembergs’ objection to his lawyer and his lawyer’s request to be disassociated from the case. Because of this, Ivankins continued reading his speech.

In a previous court session both the judges and the state prosecutor criticized Ivankins for prolonging the process. Criticisms surfaced because the lawyer dedicated only 25 minutes of the entire previous court session to his speech. Before and after delivering it, Ivankins stressed to the court that he has not had sufficient time to prepare, adding that because of the size of the case five months of preparations the court had given him was not enough.

Ivankins told the court it would be necessary to adapt the schedule of the court to avoid having to switch lawyers in the future.

Read also: BNN exclusive: Lembergs’ loss of a lawyer is no excuse to prolong trial, says prosecutor

As previously reported, on 25 June 2019 the court received a statement from Lembergs’ lawyer Raimonds Krastiņš, in which he explained he is unable to continue defending Lembergs. The defendant then announced that his remaining lawyers – Irina Kauke and Aldis Alliks – are unable to maintain his defence. The court then gave Lembergs time to find a replacement. However, he failed to do this within the time provided to him.

Because in accordance with the law it was necessary to provide Lembergs with a new lawyer, the court picked Ivankins as his lawyer on 21 August. The new lawyer requested six months to go through the case and prepare – the court gave him four months.

Prosecutor’s in charge of the case want eight years of prison with confiscation of property for Lembergs, as well as fine worth 150 minimal wages or EUR 64 500. Prosecutors had commenced their debate session in February 2019 and had concluded it in March.

The prosecutor’s office accuses Lembergs of bribery in especially large volumes, money laundering, forgery of official status, participation in monetary deals he is not allowed to take part in due to his official status, as well as abuse of official power and other crimes. Anrijs Lembergs and Ansis Sormulis are also among the accused in this criminal case.

The prosecutor’s office has requested sentencing Anrijs Lembergs to a prison sentence of five years and six months with confiscation of property, whereas the requested sentence for Sormulis is seven years in prison with confiscation of property, as explained by prosecutor Juris Juriss.

All three of the accused deny their guilt.

On 9 December 2019, based on the so-called Magnitsky Law, OFAC imposed sanctions against a number of persons and their organizations in Europe, Asia and Latin America, including Lembergs, for corruption.

After 9 January, any financial transactions with Lembergs, Ventspild Development Agency, Business Development Association and Latvian Transit Business Association will not be possible, because banks will not service them.


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