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One day in a courtroom with Aivars Lembergs

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUOn Monday, 12 March, yet another court session took place, during which the criminal case involving Aivars Lembergs, Anrijs Lembergs and Ansis Sormulis was being reviewed. A question often asked in relation to this situation is why this court process has been continuing for nine whole years with no end in sight. This time BNN decided to enter the ‘belly of the beast’ to look one of the court sessions from the inside.

Aivars Lembergs arrived first, wearing green trousers, a coat and hat. His choice of attire caused his lawyer, Irina Kauke, to say: «Oh my, how green!»

Once the two of them sat down, they started whispering among themselves in Russian. The two other accused – Anrijs Lembergs and Ansis Sormulis – joined the session shortly after by means of a video conference call.

Once judges arrived the session was declared open. The head judge Boriss Geimans said: «Today we will continue [heavy sigh] debates in this case.» Aivars Lembergs immediately voiced objections about the fact that the case not being viewed by episodes, as it was promised during the investigation. Geimans responded by saying he is unable to evaluate the work performed by the prosecutor. The discussion ended there.

Another curious thing to mention: Aivars Lembergs asked «if it is possible to speak more slowly, because the people listening are unable to hear everything said». Geimanss said he hopes this request will be taken into account. Lembergs said he understands that «every person has their own way of speaking». Geimanss cut him off by saying: «Very well. Thank you, I understand.»

Anrijs Lembergs asked about another ‘important’ part of the court session: «Excuse me, at what time will we be having lunch today?» Some of the people present took a deep breath and laughed.

Prosecutor Juris Jurass took a folder with approximately 120 pages. He started reading carefully about every firm: where, how and when Aivars Lembergs requested bribes. He also read registration numbers, the dates and the posts the accused was in when he requested bribes.

Charges were voiced in relation to illegal requests of shares in companies like Multi Nord AG, AS Ventspils parks, AS Kālija parks, Ventspils Commercial Port, as well as acts of bribery. Non-compliance with the latter would have supposedly resulted in «unpleasant consequences» for Ainars Gulbis and others. Charges were also voiced in regards to document forging, threats, etc. A lot of information was reported. A lot.

Whoever was not reading loud was trying to stall for time or spend time staring into their phone, laptop or tablet during the court session. The judge tried listening at first, but then picked pages and started reading.

Lembergs spend the ten-minute break talking with his lawyer outside the courtroom.

Once the meeting was over, all participants returned to their usual poses: Anrijs Lembergs sat back in his chair and began staring into his computer’s screen, judge Geimans was looking very tired, and people in the audience took their phones or tablets to write something down or stall for time. Aivars Lembergs and his lawyer sat down and started listening to the reader.

After nearly an hour-long read came the lunch break. Once the break was over, some people started discussing where and what they ate. Judges returned three minutes after the lunch break. Aivars Lembergs returned five minutes later. Judge Irīna Jansone started complaining when the accused started apologizing for coming late.

The prosecutor continued reading company names registration numbers, quotes from previous court sessions, adding that «documents and testimonies to be analysed together already prove that Aivars Lembergs did have an opportunity to put at risk Ainars Gulbis’ business interests». The prosecutor also mentioned that a copy of a certain document is added to the 122nd volume of the criminal case.

Aivars Lembergs spend hours listening to what he had done or, according to him, he had not. Others were listening as well throughout the court session. And who is to blame for all the volumes and document copies the case now consists of? Why are there so many criminal charges? While the prosecutor was going through all the accusations, the judge was fighting off his fatigue and talking with his fellow judges from time to time.

As the court session went on, one thought was gradually increasing: «Who finds this court session necessary?»

It is likely the lunch break did not give participants the needed dose of energy, because the judge kept closing his eyes for 15 seconds at times throughout the session. But no sleep was possible, because some journalist was present. Kauke whispered to Lembergs: «Clever girls». After a 45-minute-long fight with fatigue, Geimans started stalling for time, switching attention between his phone and papers.

Recounting of accusations continued in the same pace as it did in the previous three hours. Doubts started creeping in that the debates would not even begin at this rate.

At 15:30 Kauke requested a five-minute break. The judge permitted it.

After the break, Aivars Lembergs asked the court to end the session ten minutes early, because he had a meeting of party leaders scheduled later that day. The judge smiled and asked: «Your party, yes?»

Lembergs replied by saying: «Yes, I represent the party I lead, but there will be representatives of other parties. At 15:50, so I would like to leave before then.»

After a short period of deliberation, the court decided to end the session at 15:50. After another 15-minute read and presentation of evidence, a reminder was given to those present that the court session of 13 March would start at 11:00, not 10:00. A sharp reminder was given, declaring the session a closed one. After that, everyone left.

Karel Čapek once wrote: «And yet you will all be happy when the day of the trial begins, you – authors and actors [judges and prosecutors], directors and stage masters [prosecutors and lawyers], hairdressers and dressmakers [journalists and observers]. It’s a long and gloomy day, heavy as a millstone and evil, but you’ll be happy just because it’s so exhausting.» This process continues for the tenth year. It seems Čapek’s words can be used in relation to situations outside the theatre as well.


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