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Monday 09.12.2019 | Name days: Sarmīte, Tabita

Excellent reputation and «backbone» – qualities Latvia’s next prosecutor general should have

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prosecutor general, candidates, Saeima, Supreme Court, judge

Ēriks Kalnmeiers

Some of the potential prosecutor general candidates have no desire to stand candidate or they refuse to publicly comment their decision in the event of them being offered such an opportunity.

The term of Latvia’s current Prosecutor General Ēriks Kalnmeiers ends in summer next year. The law states it is possible to elect a person aged 40 and who has no less than five years of experience working as judge in Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, or an international court or no less than ten years working as a judge in a regional court, senior prosecutor, court district office of the prosecutor or prosecutor general’s office.

The law also states the prosecutor general is elected following proposal from the chairman of the Supreme Court. The proposal needs to be coordinated with the Justice Council. The prosecutor general is appointed by the Saeima for a five-year term.

Considering the aforementioned, LETA interviewed a number of officials who meet requirements. Prosecutors from court district prosecutor offices, specialized offices of the prosecutor and senior prosecutors of the Prosecutor General’s Office Aivars Ostapko, Elita Jurkjāne, Una Brenča, Krišjānis Rudzītis, Juris Pēds, Ramona Bērziņa, Ingemārs Masaļskis, Armīns Meisters, Andris Gusarovs, Ligita Veha, Dainis Mālmanis, Ivonna Ašmane, Arvīds Kalniņš, Viktorija Opincāne, Modris Adlers, Alēns Mickevičs, Gita Biezuma, Vinetas Zvirbule, Agnis Krastiņš, Ivars Žubulis and Antra Sprudzāne were asked if they would consider standing candidate for the post of prosecutor general. Officials were also asked to comment on the qualities the next prosecutor general should have.

The majority of interviewed officials did not provide comments, while only some senior prosecutors did.

Senior prosecutor of the Prosecutor General’s Office Critical Investigation Unit Modris Adlers said he is definitely not interested in standing candidate.

According to him, the next prosecutor general needs to have experience working in an office of the prosecutor or court of justice, as well as have experience managing a team, ability to communicate, listen and be decisive. Additionally, the next prosecutor general needs to be able to publicly voice their opinion about topical problems, explain their opinion and the opinion of the prosecutor general.

The Prosecutor General’s Office Work Analysis and Management Department’s senior prosecutor Aivars Ostapko did not comment on the possibility of standing candidate. He added, however, the candidate for this post needs to have a modern vision for the office of the prosecutor to develop in the future, a progressive vision for efficiency and quality of the prosecutor’s duties.

«A strong backbone and resistance against any unjustified interference in work of independent office of the prosecutor,» said Ostapko.

Latgale Court District senior prosecutor Andris Gusarovs said he has no plans to stand candidate for the post of prosecutor general.

Krišjānis Rudzītis, senior prosecutor of the Office of the Prosecutor General Work Analysis and Management Department Office for Prosecutors Personal and Professional Growth, said he would consider standing candidate but would not actually become a candidate in the end, because he believe he does not have sufficient experience.

Rudzītis believes the perfect candidate should have a spotless reputation, be honest and principled, adding that these qualities are not enough. Because the prosecutor general is responsible for an institution of national importance, he believes it is only logical for the candidate to be someone with highly professional knowledge of the work done by investigative institutions, office of the prosecutor and courts of justice, as well as have years of experience leading some important institution or unit. Additionally, a leader of an institution of this level should be able to represent himself in Latvia and foreign countries.

Read also: Exclusive | Latvian MP: Top justice figures, Bičkovičs and Kalnmeiers, working like this in private sector, would be sacked long ago

Senior prosecutor of the Office of the Prosecutor for Investigation of Illegal Narcotic Substances Ivars Žubulis said he does not consider standing candidate for the post of prosecutor general. Vidzeme Court District Prosecutor’s Office senior prosecutor Ligita Vehi notes she has no plans to change her career direction and would not become a candidate because she likes her current job.

Žubulis admits the candidate for the post of the prosecutor general should be honest, fair and decisive. According to Vehi, the candidate should have a spotless reputation, be independent, fair and honest, as well as have team management skills.

LETA also interviewed Māris Leja, who is known as the prosecutor in charge of multiple scandalous corruption cases. Leja believes the candidate for the post of prosecutor general should know the specifics of the prosecutor’s work on all levels, command authority among other prosecutors and have good organizational skills. This person should also be able to communicate with mass media and possess a nervous system made of steel.

Leja has no plans to stand candidate himself, however. «I don’t think I would be an appropriate candidate for this post, at the very least because I don’t have a lot of experience leading a team. I prefer working on investigating criminal cases,» said Leja.

Chairmen of Latvian regional courts – Zemgale Regional Court’s chairperson Inguna Preisa, Vidzme Regional Court’s chairperson Edīte Knēgere, Kurzeme Regional Court’s chairperson Silva Reinholde, Latgale Regional Court’s chairman Andris Strauts and Riga Regional Court chairperson Daiga Vilsone – said they have no plans to stand candidate for the post of prosecutor general.

Strauts also said he would have considered this option five years ago, but not any more.

Chairpersons of the regional courts admit the next prosecutor general should be highly professional and able to provide advice to any prosecutor. Additionally, the official should know laws, be honest and respected in a team, as well as confident about their views.

Vilsone said the next prosecutor general should be primarily competent, brave and honest.

None of the active judges of the Constitutional Court wanted to provide comments. The Law on the Office of the Prosecutor details the order under which the prosecutor general is elected. It defines both requirements for candidates, as well as criteria candidates have to meet and the approval order.

As previously reported, next summer marks the end of the term for Latvia’s Prosecutor General Kalnmeiers.

More on this topic: Will Kalnmeiers last until term’s end? Supreme Court sees no reasons for dismissal

Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns has recently submitted to the Justice Council chairman Ivars Bičkovičs multiple proposals for improving the prosecutor general candidate selection process.

The minister’s proposal for amendments to the Law on the Office of the Prosecutor provide for submitting candidates directly without mediators.

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