Misāne could face prosecution in Latvia after all

Latvia's Prosecutor General's office performed what amounted to a U-turn February 18 and announced that it had applied to the courts for an arrest warrant and request for the extradition of Kristīne Misāne from Denmark to Latvia, LSM's Latvian language service reported.

Denmark is currently preparing to extradite Misāne to the Republic of South Africa (RSA). 

As previously reported by LTV's De Facto investigative news show, which put the Misāne case at the top of the national news agenda, when approached by Denmark several months ago to see if Latvia intended to press charges against its national, the prosecutor declined, saying the penalties applicable under Latvian law would not be sufficiently harsh to justify a prosecution.

However on February 17, the Prosecutor General's Office said it had received new evidence to initiate criminal proceedings that would entail a potentially harsher penalty if she was found guilty at trial. For the purposes of this criminal proceeding, Misāne is recognized as a suspect relating to charges of violating custody and access to children, theft, destruction, damage or unlawful use and falsification of documents, seals and stamps, and the sale and use of forged documents, stamps and seals. 

The Latvian government considered the matter during a closed cabinet session and emerged with a decision to submit an application to the European Court of Human Rights.

Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs spoke to LSM about Latvia's current position with regard to the Misāne case, stressing that the government's concern was not with the South African legal system but the length of time Misāne has already been in custody in Denmark and the potential conditions she might be kept in during any trial in South Africa.

"As far as I know, Latvian and Danish law provides for a sentence of almost the same amount [of time] she has already spent in jail, yet she has not been convicted. This is pre-trial detention and nobody knows if she is guilty or not, but the time spent in prison is already quite long," he said. 

Rinkēvičs also said cooperation between different ministries had been good.

Edgars Rinkevics on Misane caseMike Collier/LSM

    As previously reported by LSM, Misāne is wanted in South Africa to face charges of child abduction, document forgery and others. She was arrested by Denmark while in transit at Copenhagen airport in December 2018 for a flight to Mozambique and has been in custody ever since.

    She alleges that her former partner, South African citizen Johann Grobler, was abusive towards her and she took two of her children - of which Grobler is father of one - and fled the country with them in defiance of a South African court order.

    Grobler has denied the accusations and last week his supporters posted a rebuttal online. Meanwhile Misāne's supporters have been gathering signatures calling for more action from the authorities.

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