Court rules Latvian central bank governor was lawfully arrested

Former Latvian central bank governor Ilmārs Rimšēvičs was lawfully arested while he was still in the job, according to a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued November 10.

The case concerned the arrest and approximately 46-hour detention of Rimšēvičs in 2018, which caused an international sensation as he was also a European Central Bank Governing Council member at the time.

He was arrested on corruption-related charges in connection with a Latvian bank, and the subsequent criminal case is still going through the courts in Latvia. Rimšēvičs denies any guilt.

However, the ECHR ruling relates to whether any laws were broken during his period of initial detention. Rimšēvičs took Latvia to court claiming his rights had been violated. The court said they had not.

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Judgment Rimševics v. Latvia - Former Latvian Central Bank Governor was lawfully arrested and held .pdf

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"The Court found in particular that Mr Rimšēvičs’s arrest and subsequent detention had been lawful as he had been held for less than the statutory period for doing so, that decision had not been arbitrary owing to the suspicion against him, and that holding him for that period had not needed to be authorised by a judge, and it had been in accordance the Criminal Procedure Law," the ECHR said.

Rimšēvičs was arrested on 17 February 2018 under section 264(1)(2) of the Criminal Procedure Law and placed in detention the next day for a further 30 hours. He asked to be brought before an investigating judge immediately, but this was refused. Anti-corruption force KNAB carried out additional investigative steps including questioning him further. On 19 February 2018 he was released on bail with conditions attached including not leaving the country and the ban on holding office. The latter condition was subsequently overturned by the Court of Justice of the European Union, and Rimšēvičs continued in his job until his term of office expired on 20 December, 2019.

The ECHR noted that its judgment "is without prejudice to Mr Rimšēvičs’s ongoing criminal trial."

The decision of the court reads:

The Court noted that Mr Rimšēvičs had been released within the 48-hour statutory period for doing
so, and had been given bail immediately following his application.
It held that there had been a reasonable suspicion against Mr Rimšēvičs – as seen in the detailed
arrest record – and so continuing to hold him after 18 February 2018 had not been arbitrary.
The arrest had been in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Law and so had been lawful. In
accordance with domestic law there had been no obligation to have his deprivation of liberty for
that period authorised by a judge. A large number of investigative activities had been carried out
while he had been held.
Although Mr Rimšēvičs argued that KNAB upon arresting him had failed to assess his arguments
about potential immunity as a member of the Governing Council of the ECB, the Court saw no
reason to question the application of legal provisions by the national investigating authority, who
appeared to have had no doubt that immunity had not applied as the alleged offences had not been
carried out in connection with the duties which he carried out on behalf of an EU institution.

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