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Several illegal hostels raided after tragic fire in Rīga

Following the tragic fire at the illegal hostel in Rīga, Merķeļa Street, the city construction board and municipal police discovered several more such illegal accommodation sites in a raid and ordered them to be closed, Latvian Television reported April 29.

Police carried out searches at the residences and workplaces of three people detained on Wednesday in relation to the fire of Merķeļa Street illegal hostel. Documents and data carriers were removed. The police have also interviewed dozens of people in criminal proceedings.

One of the detainees, the owner of the apartment/hostel, is a lawyer, former president of the Riga Law School Students Association Andrejs Gailis.

Currently, the police are investigating different versions. Meanwhile, the municipal responsible services have started to survey places where guests are illegally housed.

The first places the police and the construction board visited were two illegal hostels on Marijas Street. Police had already detained the owner of those on Wednesday. There is only one tenant left, who has no place to stay. He's been renting a spot there for two months, but he doesn't have a rental contract.

“I pay in cash, without a contract,” tenant Roberts said, adding that the man whom he paid “had been taken away yesterday”. Roberts has to look for another shelter. The police gave him a few hours to pick up his belongings.

He said he didn't remember the name of the owner. However, according to official databases, the two surveyed Marijas Street apartments belong to the same persons as the hostel burned down on Merķeļa Street – the detained lawyer Andrejs Gailis and Hotels and Apartments Ltd.

Another apartment with an illegal hostel Hostel Marija is located in the same building, owned by the owner of Vanags driving school, Dainis Uzuliņš. His driving school is also in the same building.

In the apartment, the police met several residents – Ukrainian and Indian nationals, and a pack of marijuana, according to the tenant, “about seven, eight grams.” State police were called to the site, but local government authorities continued to survey the apartment. One thing is clear: the inhabitants of this hostel will also have to look for new homes.

This time, compliance with the decision will be monitored by the police, while the raids will continue, as the construction board has information on at least nine illegal hostels. Rīga City Council Social Services will provide assistance to tenants who may not have other places to stay in Rīga.

 

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