Central banker Rimšēvičs' defense hits an early snag

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The trial of outgoing Latvian central bank governor Ilmārs Rimšēvičs on corruption charges hit an early hitch for the defendant December 20 with the judge ruling that one of the lawyers on Rimšēvičs' defense team, Normunds Duļevskis, could not represent his client as he had previously provided legal assistance to one of the witnesses in the case, reported LTV.

The point was raised by the prosecution and the judge agreed that it constituted a potential conflict of interest.

The decision to exclude the lawyer may be appealed. After court announcement, Duļevskis left the lawyers' bench but remained in the courtroom to listen to the hearing.

Rimšēvičs' term of office expires on December 21, 2019.

In February 2018, anti-corruption agency KNAB arrested Rimšēvičs and businessman Maris Martinsons, later charging Rimšēvičs with soliciting large-scale bribes and Martinsons with aiding the payment of bribes. Rimšēvičs has maintained his innocence throughout and refused to stand down as central bank governor despite the huge embarassment his case has caused to the institution and the country at large at precisely the time Latvia is attempting to prove it has cleaned up its banking system.

The trial process was launched at a sitting on November 4. It promises to be a lengthy affair.

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