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Saturday 19.10.2019 | Name days: Drosma, Drosmis, Elīna

Exclusive | Prosecutor: For blatant disrespect, court should punish Lembergs with arrest not fine him

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Lawyer Irina Kauke (left) and Aivars Lembergs

In the criminal case against the suspended Latvian mayor, Aivars Lembergs, the court has found violations: blatant disrespect for judges and deliberate slowing down of court debates. The court should not apply a fine to a person able to pay it «without blinking an eye», but an arrest for at least a day. This would limit his chances of delaying the criminal proceedings, said Juris Juriss, the prosecutor in the case against Aivars Lembergs, who is charged with serious crimes, in an interview with the BNN.

A Day Behind Bars?

Juriss stresses that the sanctions of punishment provided in the Criminal Procedure Law are not efficient enough. Namely, for people with «thick wallets», there is the advantage of paying a fine, instead of assuming responsibility for blatant disrespect for the court in another way.

Meanwhile, if procedural sanctions would be used more effectively, for example, with the deprivation of liberty – it would help continue the process, because the defendant, most probably, would not like to spend a day behind bars.

«Of course, there should be different grades as to which procedural sanctions apply to a certain type of violations. For example, for a blatant disrespect for a court or for deliberate delaying of a criminal process,» commented the prosecutor.

Lembergs’ «performance» in court can postpone the trial for another six months

Currently, state lawyer Genādijs Ivankins has been appointed to Lembergs, yet the defendant has chosen Aivo Leimanis as his new lawyer in court.

Although Leimanis has represented Lembergs before, the lawyer has stated he needs additional time to read the materials of the case. The lawyer has also emphasised that he is on vacation until September 2 and that September is a very busy month for him.

«The court had printed the schedule of Leimanis and according to it, it turns out almost that he is only free on Saturday and Sunday,» Juris Juriss points out.

Juriss comments on the situation saying:

«Effectively, Lembergs signed an agreement with a lawyer, who is actually unable to come to court. This shows that a deliberate delaying of the trial is taking place».

Meanwhile, Ivankins, the sate-appointed lawyer of Lembergs, has noted that he would need about six months to read the materials of the criminal process, which, according to the prosecutor, means that court hearings would not take place during this time. «Now, it looks like the current expectations could come true and the trial of Lembergs would be postponed for several months, since he, as if, has no defence. That is the reason why the side of state prosecution is raising the alarm.»

Not to permit the situation and not to prolong the proceedings for an even longer time, Juriss believes that the court should be stricter in reviewing the defence of fragmented involvement, or how a lawyer’s order is issued and to ban them at the number of two advocates. This would permit avoiding the deliberate delaying of the criminal proceedings.

«In parallel, it would be necessary to accept a state-appointed lawyer, who would provide the motivation for this situation not to repeat itself,» the prosecutor believes.

Planned System?

«Court delaying currently takes place on the pretext of looking for defence, yet our side observed «seeds» for this scenario some time ago. In the view of state prosecution, one of the defence lawyers went against the meaning of the law, when she began issuing a separate order for every court hearing,» Juriss comments on the situation with Lembergs’ lawyer Irina Kauke.

She has taken part both in the pretrial criminal proceedings and in the trial from its beginning. However, over the past few months, according to Juriss, lawyer Kauke carried out a fictional scenario – deliberately applied for orders, which are, as if, about separate speeches of fragments of debates. Thus, Lembergs was able to justify that Kauke was not his defence lawer to the full extent.

«Our projection came true after lawyer Raimonds Krastiņš declared his resignation due to an illness. It turns out that Lembergs has lost his defence, because Kauke somehow isn’t his full lawyer due to many orders staged to Lembergs. Here, the side of state prosecution sees maliciousness. «The ground» for this was prepared deliberately with the aim of delaying the criminal proceedings on the pretext of searching for defence.»

The implementation of the procedural system (issuing defence orders), to the mind of the prosecutor, cannot be illusory, it has to be substantiated with law and existing necessity, not permitting the delaying of criminal proceedings.

Juriss believes that if in this situation, nothing is radically changed with «the issue of the defence», then the verdict in the Lembergs’ case can be expected in two years from now, at the earliest.

«It is important to understand that we want to make the provision of defence more effective, not to limit it. One has to understand that victims are also provided legal assistance, the victims also have the right to have the criminal proceedings end in a reasonable period of time.»

Latvia should be no place for situation, where lawyers use being busy as excuse

«We are looking with caution at an opinion published by the NRA [newspaper] from the chairman of the Latvian Council of Sworn Advocates, Jānis Rozenbergs, that it would be almost impossible to find a defence lawyer in the Lembergs’ trial. NRA mentions in its article a view expressed by Rozenbergs that in total, in Latvia, in the field of every-day criminal law, there are about 350 defence lawyers employed, including 50 to 70, who serve in trials on a regular basis.»

However, if this situation is so overwhelming as NRA claimed in the interview with Rozenbergs, then the state should look at this issue as a whole and perhaps establish an institute of state defence lawyers, notes Juriss.

According to the prosecutor, with such a large amount of defence lawyers, Latvia should not have a situation with lawyers using busyness as an excuse and that it is impossible to find a lawyer, who could ensure his or her constant presence in court hearings.

To add, Lawyer Rozenbergs is also working in the Lembergs’ trial. He represents businessman Ansis Sormulis.

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