Rimšēvičs case to continue in late December

The bribery case against the Bank of Latvia Governor Ilmārs Rimšēvičs will continue on December 20, it was decided at an initial case hearing November 4, at which the court also turned down a request by Rimšēvičs' defense counsel that hearings should continue behind closed doors.

Presiding Judge Gundega Lapina said that it would be decided at the next hearing whether the European Court of Justice had to be consulted regarding matters of potential immunity and liability.

Subsequent court hearings will be held on January 17 and 24, as well as on February 7, 14, 17 and 24, the court decided, though the case is widely expected to last for a long time - possibly years, as has happened in numerous other trials of high-profile officials.

Rimšēvičs' attorney, Martins Kveps, argues that his client, as a member of the European Central Bank's Governing Council, is immune from criminal prosecution, which is why Kveps asked the Riga District Court in Jūrmala to turn to the European Court of Justice for a decision.

Rimšēvičs himself told the court that he would not use this immunity to escape prosecution, but that the immunity of a ECB Governing Council member was a "filter" against unfounded accusations.

As previously reported, before the court hearing Rimšēvičs rejected the accusations of soliciting bribes and money-laundering  against him.

"I am very happy that the trial is finally beginning today. I believe it is very important that the trial be quick and fair. Needless to say that I, of course, reject all the allegations and accusations made against me," Rimšēvičs said before the court hearing.

Rimsevics has been charged with two counts of graft, as well as money laundering. An associate, businessman Maris Martinsons has been charged with aiding and abetting bribery and aiding and abetting graft, as well as money laundering.

The case was launched based on applications from two shareholders of Trasta Komercbanka who had asked Rimšēvičs to assist the bank in regulatory issues - though oversight of financial institutions is not the responsibility of the central bank.

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