Prosecutor demands 8-year jail sentence for Ventspils bigwig

During proceedings at the Rīga Regional Court March 7, the Prosecutor's Office demanded an eight-year prison sentence, with confiscation of property, and a fine in the amount of 150 minimum monthly wages, or €64,500, for Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs who stands accused of a number of serious crimes, as the prosecutor on the case Juris Juriss told LETA.

The other defendants in the case are Lembergs' son and Sormulis. All three plead not guilty.

Court debates will continue after an adjournment, when the prosecutor will also tell demand prison sentences for Lembergs' son Anrijs Lembergs and business partner Ansis Sormulis.

Prosecutor Juriss told Latvian Radio that he thinks properties worth of several hundred million are to be confiscated from Aivars Lembergs. 

He also later asked to hand a prison sentence of 5,5 years for Anrijs Lembergs with confiscation of property, and 7 years of prison for Sormulis, also with confiscation of property.

On 14 March 2007 Lembergs was charged with bribery, money laundering, unlawful participation in property transactions and providing false information in his tax return. Remarkably, the subsequent court case has yet to reach a conclusion and has provided no restraint on his participation in politics at national as well as local level.

The case was handed over to the court by the prosecutor's office in 2008. Riga Regional Court has been reviewing the case since August 2009. Boriss Geimans, Irīna Jansone and Ligita Kuzmane are the judges on the case.

Lembergs, widely regarded as one of Latvia's 'oligarchs', is a politician and businessman. He is the leader of the political party “For Latvia and Ventspils” (“Latvijai un Ventspilij”) which is part of the Greens and Farmers Union political grouping, in which he is regarded as something of a grey eminence, having previously been its candidate for Prime Minister on several occasions. 

(Updated with paragraphs 3 and 4.)

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