The tragedy in Jēkabpils, where a young woman was killed after months-long stalking and threats, has been a lesson for the State Police. Unfortunately it took a tragic murder to learn that calls from a victim must be answered immediately.
This week, police had to show the ability to respond in a similar situation.
Last year, a 23-year-old man was arrested for a sex offense against a 20-year-old woman. The court imposed custody, which was later extended. But the man was released again. He violated the ban on contacting or approaching the victim five times.
Police again asked the man to be taken into custody. It didn't happen. An application for revocation of provisional protection was examined on January 18. The court overturned it.
February 1 – the day the verdict came into effect – the man tried to kidnap the woman.
“He was trying to kidnap her. Pulled her, yanked her. Only by engaging with neighbors did she manage to escape,“ State Police East Zemgale Precinct Chief Evita Galviņa told LTV.
The man fled. Large police forces were involved in his search. The man was detained on a train. A police officer chased the train by car, boarded it in Salaspils, and among the many passengers the man was found and recognized.
“[He] had a knife with him; he was armed. At the police station he broke the ceiling, attacked police officers, ripped off a metal bar, and tried to cut his own veins,” the police spokeswoman said.
Why was the restraining order overturned?
Judge Valdis Muižnieks of Zemgale District Court explained in a written reply: “No further grounds for its further application have been established and no further threat to the applicant has been established. The applicant herself also attended the hearing and confirmed that there was no longer any danger to her.”
The State Police think otherwise. This man has been serving sentences for rape ever since he was a teenager. He spent six of his 23 years in prison.
“It's a responsibility of the court. The criminal proceedings were investigated, were ready to be referred to the prosecution,” Galviņa pointed out.
The prosecutor also believes that such offenders should be taken seriously. This week's case proves it again. “Thank you very much to the police officers [..]. The exchange of information was excellent,“ said Aigars Bičušs, chief prosecutor of the Zemgale Court District Prosecutor's Office.
Now again, police are demanding that the detainee be placed in custody, which the court accepted on Friday. “I think it will be very difficult for a judge to argue why not apply detention,” the prosecutor said.
State Police Chief Armands Ruks stressed that there was zero tolerance for violent offenders, and exactly the same is expected of the court and judges.
“We have basically declared war on the violent. And amendments to the law on persecution, on threats, on temporary protection violation allow us to trigger other mechanisms,” Ruks said.