Latvian member of parliament Zakatistovs has immunity from prosecution lifted

Saeima voted June 6 to lift the parliamentary immunity of KPV LV deputy Atis Zakatistovs, opening the way for him to face charges in connection with an alleged illegal business scheme.

His fello lawmakers voted by 55 to 21 to allow him to face possible prosecution.  

Speaking to Saeima before the vote, Zakatistovs said that removing his immunity would present a "threat to the democratic process" and be an insult to those members of the public who had voted for him at last year's Saeima elections.

He did receive some support in the chamber from the New Conservative Party, whose lawmaker Juta Striķe attacked the prosecutor general, Eriks Kalnmeiers, whose actions she said "degrade the rule of law."

"I have no confidence that this is the end of the list [of deputies who might face prosecution]" Striķe said.

The Prosecutor's Office announced that on April 24 that it had submitted a proposal to the Saeima for consent to commence criminal prosecution for a criminal offense provided for in Section 177 (3) of the Criminal Law.

The proposal is based on the decision of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) of 29 March 2019 to initiate criminal proceedings against two persons.

However, ever since then Saeima had been treading water on whether or not to lift his immunity.  

As previously reported by LSM, the academic-turned-politician who once specialized in teaching business ethics is suspected of involvement in a scheme involving bogus contracts for consultancy work and illegal party financing.

Zakatistovs is a dual Latvian and Canadian citizen who sits on the Saeima's Budget and Finance (Tax) Commission as well as heading the Saeima group of the KPV LV party, which has seen its public support collapse since a startlingly good performance in last year's Saeima elections.

The lifting of Zakatistovs' immunity follows the lifting of immunity last October in the completely separate case of New Conservative MP Juris Jurašs.

A meeting of the Saeima Mandates, Ethics and Submissions Committee on June 5 passed a draft resolution allowing for the criminal prosecution of Zakatistovs.

Lawmakers from Harmony, For Development/For, the National Alliance, the Union of Greens and Farmers and New Unity voted to strip Zakatistovs of immunity from prosecution. MPs from the New Conservative Party and KPV LV voted against allowing Zakatistovs’ prosecution.

As reported, the prosecutor’s office asked Saeima to strip Zakatistovs of immunity from prosecution. Earlier, the Corruption Prevention Bureau asked the Prosecutor's Office to charge Zakatistovs and businessman Viesturs Tamuzs with large-scale organized fraud.

Zakatistovs and Tamuzs both deny any wrongdoing.

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