Former central market boss' third corruption trial set to start

The former head of Riga's central market begins his third criminal court case this week, with a picture unfolding of widespread corruption within one of Latvia's main commercial centers, reported LTV's De Facto investigative show March 25.

Anatolijs Abramovs served as chairman of the Riga Central Market for five years after being appointed without competition by Riga mayor Nils Ušakovs. The latest case against the lawyer sees him accused of regularly demanding bribes from a market stall-holder, a charge that could see him serve from 3 to 11 years in prison if convicted.

The two existing cases against Abramovs involve suspicions of a rigged contract for pest control services at the market and for embezzlement of market funds from the "night markets" that take place ahead of the day markets. LSM has previously reported on the cases.

But the latest case is entirely separate, according to De Facto's information, even though Abramovs and some of his other known associates from the other cases will appear, either as the defendant or as witnesses.

According to prosecution lawyers, Abramovs solicited bribes from a market leaseholder - Martins Vadža from a company called Cerebriti. The payment was fixed at 1,100 euros per month and according to documents connected with the case Abramov received 8,800 euros and was arrested by KNAB anti-corruption officers in summer 2016 with a large amount of cash in his possession.

Abramovs denies his guilt and told De Facto there were various "circumstances and considerations" that explained his actions satisfactorily, though he did not want to outline the form his defense would take in advance of court hearings. 

Since the autumn the central market has been led by Artis Druvinieks, who secured the post after an open competition. He said the ''old team" that used to run the market, consisting of Abramovs and his associates, no longer wields any influence.

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