Businessman Rieksts accused of war crime glorification

The State Security Service (VDD) has launched criminal proceedings against a person on September 27 for alleged glorification and justification of crimes committed by the aggressor country Russia in Ukraine, as well as for acts aimed at inciting national and ethnic hatred and intolerance, VDD said.

It is informally known to Latvian Television (LTV) that the person against whom criminal proceedings have been initiated is businessman Ernests Rieksts.

The VDD said, without mentioning the name, that when assessing a person's recent statements on the “Telegram” messaging platform, criminal proceedings were initiated against the person in accordance with Section 74.1 of the Criminal Law on the justification of genocide, crime against humanity, crime against peace and war crime and Section 78 on the incitement of national, ethnic and racial hatred.

LTV knows the person is businessman Ernests Rieksts, whose name has previously been spoken in connection with the deadly fire at the Merkeļa Street hostel. Police detained a total of six people after the fire, but two persons, including businessman Ernests Rieksts, later remained in a suspect status as the criminal proceedings against the other individuals were dropped.

According to VVD, the person has published voice messages to an unlimited number of persons expressing appreciation for the crimes committed by Russian forces against Ukraine and its people. The person also denigrates residents of both Latvia and Ukraine in the published voice messages.

Through this channel, Rieksts tries to sell plots of land to Latvians in the Republic of Fiji, speculating on people's fears of wars. “With regard to my statements, I hope that the Russian army will enter Latvia. I hope! I am the one who wants it to come into Latvia,“ says Rieksts in one of the recordings.

VDD has forwarded the criminal proceedings to the State Police for further investigation.

VDD also noted that there is currently another criminal case initiated against this person by the State Police, in which the person has been charged with conducting business without registration, causing significant harm, as well as an intentional violation of fire safety regulations, resulting in the death of several people – this regards the mentioned fire on Merķeļa Street.

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