Judge under investigation, dismissed from court

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Riga District Court Judge Iveta Bērziņa, whose office was cordoned off by anti-corruption officials Wednesday, has been detained by authorities and also stripped of her judicial ranking, reported Latvia’s news media Thursday. Another judge's office was also reported to have been raided without an arrest being made.

Further details regarding what prompted her arrest by the Corruption Combating and Prevention Bureau (KNAB) officers remains entirely off-limits to the public, however the court’s spokesperson Inta Šaboha said that it had received notification from KNAB that the judge was under criminal investigation for possible criminal acts at the order of General Prosecutor Ēriks Kalnmeiers.

By law, when a judge has come under the status of a person requiring legal representation, then she is required to temporarily be dispossessed of her judicial authority from the moment the court receives such notice, until the moment the criminal court process has reached its full hearing and verdict is delivered.

News broke Wednesday that Judge Bērziņa’s office had been raided and roped off by KNAB officers, who confiscated reams of paperwork and computers as evidence for the initiated investigation.

Latvian Television (LTV), referring to sources it has obtained, floated the possibility that the raid could have something to do with the ownership takeover case of Old Town hotel Royal Square Hotel, where Latvian citizen of Afghan descent Gulam Mohamed Gulami is named as a suspect.

By law, only the General Prosecutor can initiate a criminal investigation against a standing judge. She cannot be incarcerated or called for criminal liability without the parliamentary acceptance of Saiema. Only a specially-appointed Supreme Court judge can rule on the sentencing to jail of a standing judge.

The General Prosecutor’s office representative Aiga Eiduka confirmed to national information agency LETA that Kalnmeiers had initiated proceedings against an unnamed judge, however only KNAB is permitted to comment publically on its case further.

LETA recounts that the judge has previously ruled on cases such as former general director Jānis Motte at the State Real Estate Property Agency, as well as a case held against former Parex Bank owners Viktors Krasovickis and Georgijs Krasovickis over a donation contract annulment request and a case in Jurmala against its former mayor Juris Hlevickis.

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