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Wednesday 19.09.2018 | Name days: Verners, Muntis

Police in Vairāk saules case criticized for illegal interrogation of a child

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUAccording to Latvijas Avīze, police officers investigating Vairāk saules tax fraud case interrogated a 12 year old girl without parents present and performed a search to boot. The girl’s mother believes police officers have violated the law by doing that, so she decided to turn to police, asking authorities to assess police officers’ actions, as well as declare information and evidence acquired as illegal.

The search was performed in the woman’s apartment because an employee of Vairāk saules restaurant is declared there even though he does not live there. The woman was not present when police were performing the search. Only her 12 year old daughter was present. In the afternoon the woman received a call from her daughter’s phone, but the person speaking was a man who said he is a police officer with a court sanctioned order to perform a search.

«I then called my neighbour and asked her to come over to my apartment and have a look at what was going on. I then left work and headed home immediately. My neighbour later called back and told me she had knocked on the door and some man opened it but did not let her in. He only told her that a search was taking place. Over the man’s shoulder my neighbour saw my daughter sitting on the sofa with our dog in her lap and three men around her,» said the woman.

After returning home the woman found out that police officers had already interrogated her daughter and had written down everything she said. «When I asked on what basis was my daughter interrogated, police officers said that even if there was a five-year-old in the apartment, they would have gotten in even through a window.»

Once police were done with her interrogation, she was asked to sign a document stating she has no objections to having her under-aged daughter interrogated by police. «I told them I have many objections, but they threatened taking away my computer and phone. I got scared, because those devices contain information I need for work. I was shocked, and so I signed the document,» said the woman.

Later the woman’s daughter told her that when police officers entered the apartment she got scared and thought they were thieves. She tried running outside to ask neighbours for help, but one of the men grabbed her and dragged her back inside. She then ran to her room to call her mother, but one of the inspectors took the phone from her.

Vairāk saules restaurant’s lawyer Armands Rasa says the Criminal Procedure Law does not permit police to perform searches in the presence of a minor. Part 1 of Section 181 states that searches are to be  conducted in the presence of the person at whose site the search takes place, or in the presence of a family member of legal age of such person. If the presence of the relevant person is not possible, or if such person avoids participation in the search, the search shall be conducted in the presence of the possessor, manager, or a representative of the local government of the object subjected to the search. This means police had no right to perform a search in the woman’s apartment without her or another family member of legal age present.

Part 2 of Section 152 of the Criminal Procedure Law states A  minor  shall  be  interrogated  by a performer  of  an  investigative  action  who  has  special  knowledge  regarding  communication  with  a  minor  during  criminal  proceedings.  If the performer of an investigative action has not acquired   special   knowledge   regarding communication with a minor during criminal proceedings or if the performer of an investigative action deems it necessary, the minor shall be interrogated in the presence of a pedagogue or a psychologist. In addition, one of the lawful representatives of the minor has the right to participate in an interrogation.

State Police and Chief of State Police Ints Ķuzis have refused to comment on this situation. They only promised «to review the woman’s request and provide a response».

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