Three suspects confirmed in connection with Jūrmala black smoke blaze

Three persons have been declared suspects in an ongoing probe into a major fire that broke out at an illegal waste dump in Jurmala during the summer, State Police spokeswoman Gita Gzibovska told LETA December 7.

The Economic Crime Prevention Department of the State Police is investigating the case based on three paragraphs of the Criminal Law: pollution of soil, forests and waters, pollution of air and violations of waste management regulations.

Three persons are being investigated as official suspects for violations of waste management regulations that have led to significant damage to the environment, human health and property. The offense carries a jail term of up to four years, community work or a fine, the police spokeswoman said.

None of the suspects in the case has been remanded in custody. Police would not disclose their names at this stage of the investigation.

The Economic Crime Prevention Department of the State Police has also declared the State Environmental Service as the injured party in the case.

The criminal investigation into the dumpsite fire is ongoing, which is why police representatives are not giving more detailed information.

The State Police have launched another ongoing criminal investigation in connection with the fire at the illegal waste dump in Jurmala. The Riga criminal police investigate damage caused to property through arson, but nobody features as suspect in this case at the moment.

Ints Kuzis, the head of the State Police, said in early July that the police suspected arson at the dumpsite, but Gzibovska said today that so far the police had not found any convincing evidence confirming or removing suspicions of arson and the investigation was continuing.

As reported, a highly dangerous fire started in the Sloka area in Jurmala on the afternoon of June 18 as plastic waste caught fire. Flames spread over the area of 1.2 hectares and consumed also a hangar. The fire that released dark clouds of potentially hazardous smoke was put out the following morning.

After the fire Prima M, the company that operated the dump, said they suspected that the fire had been started by arsonists, though others cast doubt upon this claim.

The clean-up operation cost the Latvian state EUR 550,000, which the government hopes to later recover from Prima M, which refused to pay for the clean-up and insists that the heaps of plastic materials were recyclable materials, not waste, therefore they had not needed a permission for waste storage.

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