U.S. experts could help with Rīga gangland hit inquiry

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Technical and forensics experts from the United States could be called upon to help Latvian police solve an apparent gangland hit carried out in the Rīga rush hour last week.

Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis said the murder of attorney and insolvency administrator Martins Bunkus on May 30 was likely the work of organized crime groups and that discussions had taken place with American law enforcement to see if they could help with technical expertise as the investigation continues. He did not go into details about the agencies involved, but said they had "very great experience in the investigation of organized crime and gangland shootings".

He denied the hit signalled a return to the lawless years of the early 1990s when gangs fought for control of the Latvian capital.

"It's not the same... this is an extraordinary situation and we will not allow organised crime to dictate the rules in Rīga," Kozlovskis told LTV's morning news show, Morning Panorama, but admitted that the way in which murder was planned and executed pointed to organized criminal elements as the perpetrators.

"We are using maximum resources to solve this crime," he said, thanking members of the public for coming forward with information and urging anyone still with information to do likewise as soon as possible.

"We have lots of information but that information must be analyzed to establish the facts," Kozlovskis said, but declined to confirm whether any members of the public had supplied footage of the actual hit taking place.

The killing was most likely linked to Bunkus' professional activities as an insolvency administrator, the minister said.

Asked if the hitman or men might have come from outside Latvia, Kozlovskis said the possibility could not be ruled out, and said it was clearly "the work of more than one person".

The few details to emerge since Bukus was shot dead at the wheel of his Range Rover last week do seem to indicate a professional assassination. A soft-top van was found in flames not far from the scene of the crime and police released pictures of a rudimentary stand that was apparently used to steady the murderer's weapon as he picked his target, probably from the back of the van.


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