Latvian police catch up with wanted man Rieksts

Latvian State Police said June 10 they have apprehended Ernests Rieksts, a businessman who went on the run in April.

Rieksts is wanted for questioning in connection with the deadly fire that claimed nine lives (initial reports said there had been eight deaths, but this later increased) at an illegal hostel in Rīga, but no trace could be found of him until now and his whereabouts were unknown. It is believed that Rieksts ran the unlicensed hostel.

Police said that on Tuesday, June 8, employees of the Criminal Police Department of the Riga Regional Office of the State Police detained Ernest Rieksts, and that today, 10 June, he was remanded in custody.

The police revealed that after being tracking down online last week, Rieksts had "started remote communication with law enforcement officers using communication applications, but did not cooperate and stopped this communication. However, this did not prevent the police from locating the person and detaining him."

Police did not say where they had found the wanted man. 

Investigations are still underway and seven of the nine people who died in the fire have been identified so far, all of them Latvian citizens. 

To date, a total of six people have been detained by the police in connection with the case.

The criminal proceedings underway concern intentional violation of fire safety regulations leading to deaths, and running a business without registration or without a special permit.

As reported earlier by LSM, authorities had had the illegal hostel on their radar for a while. Arbitrary construction, ignoring fire safety requirements, illegal business, epidemiological security violations, ongoing conflicts between customers and complaints from neighbors were all noted, according to State Police (VP) and State Fire and Rescue Service (VUGD), but no one stopped the business operating. 

Following his disappearance, it emerged that Rieksts also has links to an attempt to create a new social network for conspiracy theorists, though it appeared to have had very little success.

 

 

 

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