Demonstration in street as Saeima votes to hand MP over for prosecution

Take note – story published 5 years ago

A demonstration in support of member of parliament Juris Jurašs (New Conservative party) gathered outside Saeima early on January 31 ahead of a vote by lawmakers on whether to remove his parliamentary immunity from prosecution.

A couple of dozen protesters braved chilly morning temperatures, many holding placards calling for the rule of law and others critical of Prosecutor General Ēriks Kalnmeiers

As previously reported by LSM, Kalnmeiers wants to press charges against Jurašs, a former anti-corruption officer, after Jurašs blew the whistle on what he says was an attempt to bribe him in a high-profile case. He is accused of leaking classified information and the conflict between Jurašs and Kalnmeiers has become increasingly personal as well as widening into a political issue.

In an interview with Latvian Radio on Thursday, Jurašs said that the case was "unjustly initiated and intended to create anxiety”, should be dealt with as soon as possible and he would demonstrate the charges against him were "fabricated”.

A situation in which a bribe is considered a state secret is clear evidence of a crisis in the justice system, he added.

After an hour-long lengthy debate in the Saeima chamber in the afternoon, members voted by 73 votes to 17 to lift Jurašs, immunity, following which he had to immediately leave the chamber for Saeima business to continue. Jurašs himself was among those voting in favor of lifting his immunity but speaking in parliament he defended his track record as an anti-corruption officer.

On the one hand, Kalnmeiers has expressed fears that the New Conservatives are politicising the legal system, while in the other direction there are claims of a cover-up by an entrenched elite and an attempt to make an example of Jurašs to discourage other whistleblowers.

However, the full materials relating to the case have yet to be seen by the public and both sides argue that when this knowledge becomes public it will prove decisive in their favor.

Earlier this week a parliamentary committee agreed by majority to put the lifting of Jurašs' immunity to a Saeima vote, which will take place Thursday and is likely to be preceded by a stormy debate.


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