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Family gets apology after officials forgot to send convict to prison

Latvian Television's 'Studio 4' program has reported an extraordinary and distressing case in which a man responsible for a deadly drunk driving crash escaped prison due to the incompetence of law enforcement.

According to Studio 4, Several years ago, a man was sentenced to six years in prison for a drunk driving accident that killed three people, including a little girl. However, he continued to enjoy life and freedom for the simple reason that officers of the Kurzeme Division of the State Police forgot to arrest him and take him to prison.

The victim's family appealed to the court against the state, but they have only received a letter of apology.

In 2018, three people died in an accident caused by a drunk driver in Dreimaņi, Kūku Parish, Jēkabpils district, among them a three-year-old girl. The concentration of ethyl alcohol in the blood of the drunk driver was 3.26 units per thousand, and in his urine 3.60 per thousand. The national drink drive limit is 0.50 per thousand.

The trial lasted two years, at the end of which the guilty man was sentenced to six years in prison. The victims assumed that the court's verdict was being enforced and that the guilty person was serving the punishment for what he had done, but then images of him were noticed online in which he was out enjoying himself in public and even relaxing at a concert. The accused went to jail only after the family of the deceased raised the alarm.

The victim's family hoped that someone would take responsibility for what appeared to be blatant negligence because if the video had not appeared on the Internet, the drunk driver could still be at large as the system seemed to have simply forgotten about him.

"In this particular case, both the convicted person's declared place of residence and another address known to the court were indicated in the notice of execution of the judgment to the police. The court is aware that the police received this court notice, as well as the judgment with execution... we really did not notice that such a problem had arisen with this specific case," admitted the judge of the Zemgale district court Līga Baltmane-Zepa.

Following the application of the victim's family to the management of the State Police, the Disciplinary Monitoring Group of the Kurzeme Regional Administration started a fact check, which concluded that more than two years had passed since the disciplinary offense was committed and the officials in question no longer held positions in the Kurzeme Regional Administration of the State Police, so initiating disciplinary procedures was no longer possible. 

This means that any law enforcement officer who makes an error or is negligent can simply retire from the service, and not have to answer for previous actions or inactions.

"Hopefully, those who did not perform their work will be punished. And if it was the case that this person is no longer working, then the person who is responsible for this person should be punished accordingly," hoped Marta, who lost her loved ones in the original tragedy.

"From the beginning, it seemed that the police were guilty, then it turned out that the judge did not do everything as it should be done," said Aldis Alliks, the legal representative of the victim's family. "Nothing has changed in the sense that even after 30 years of restoration of independence, one person points to another, then to a third, and the state is collectively responsible, but there are no names and surnames. My belief, my experience shows that every failure, every deficiency has a name and surname."

At first, the family appealed against the State Police and the system of the Ministry of the Interior in a civil legal case, then in an administrative one, however, fighting for justice against the civil service did not bring the expected results. The family received only a formal letter of apology.

"We are all human, but apparently there are some groups of people to whom nothing like this happens, and for them to understand those who have had something like this happen in their lives is not even difficult, but impossible," Alliks said.

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