Drowned girl's parents charged with manslaughter

The Pierīga prosecutor's office has sent a criminal case to court, accusing the mother and stepfather of five-year-old Evita who drowned in Gauja last year, of cruelty to a minor and unlawful manslaughter by negligence, the prosecutor's office of the Republic of Latvia reported December 6.

On June 26 last year, State Police received information that a five-year-old girl Evita was missing in Sigulda, Gauja Beach at about 14:00. Extensive forces from both the State Police and other services, businesses, and volunteer organizations were involved in her search. The search efforts were mainly carried out in the area of the River Gauja, with numerous inspections of both the land area and the river and its bed. Drones and a State Border Guard helicopter were used in areas where access was impossible by foot or boat.

After nearly three days of continuous searches, the missing five-year-old girl was found with no signs of life in the river between the village of Gauja and Sigulda on June 28 by a joint state police, municipal police, national guard and volunteer patrol.

The prosecution explained that on June 26 last year the two defendants, along with their young children, arrived at the public beach of the city of Sigulda on the Gauja River. The defendants, who were obliged to care for the girl and ensure her continued supervision and safety, left the child unattended, neglected to pay due attention to the child, and failed to ensure safe conditions and environments appropriate to the child's age, including safe swimming equipment appropriate to the child's age.

“As a result of the negligent conduct of the defendants, being left unattended and unaware of the potential consequences of her actions as a result of her young age, the girl ended up in the Gauja and drowned,” the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The prosecution explained that in pre-trial criminal proceedings, the body of evidence gathered and the circumstances established indicate that what happened qualified as a criminal offense and not just a tragic accident.

The defendants plead not guilty. The case has been sent to Riga District Court for examination.

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