Novice MP to head parliamentary disaster probe

Ringolds Balodis, newly-elected member of parliament with the for Latvia From The Heart party (NSL) will chair the Saeima commission formed earlier this month to probe the events surrounding the Zolitūde supermarket disaster in which 54 people died, the members of the commission decided Thursday.

Balodis beat off the challenge of high-profile alternative Artuss Kaimins to secure the position among the 12-strong commission which additionally consists of Regina Ločmele Luņova (Harmony), Artuss Kaimins (Regional Alliance) Ints Dālderis (Unity), Mārtiņš Šics (Regional Alliance), Kārlis Seržants (Greens and Farmers), Juris Vectirāns (Greens and Farmers), Kārlis Krēsliņš (National Alliance), Inguna Rībena (National Alliance), Zenta Tretjaka (Harmony), Aleksejs Loskutovs (Unity) and Inguna Sudraba (For Latvia From the Heart).

Set up nearly a year after the tragedy happened and while the official investigation into its causes drags on with no end in sight, the parliamentary commission's main objective will be to analyze the causes of the tragedy and to develop recommendations so that a similar accident does not happen again. 

The commission is expected to report in twelve months' time.

Balodis is a lawyer and academic by training.

Meanwhile it was also decided Thursday that former constitutional court chairman Gunārs Kūtris, another For Latvia From The Heart newbie, will head another parliamentary commission, this time probing the sale of state-owned Citadele Bank to US investors.

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