Latvian rioter being extradited from Czech Republic

Ansis Ataols-Bērziņš, a man who was convicted for participation in the 2009 riot in Riga, is to be extradited to Latvia shortly, reported Latvian Television March 22.

This comes after the Czech Supreme Court denied Bērziņš' request not to extradite him. His case has gained resonance in Latvia, in part because Ansis Ataols is the son of Uldis Bērziņš, a respected and renowned poet and translator.

During Bērziņš' imprisonment in the Czech Republic, allegations surfaced over his mistreatment at the hands of prison personnel

His family and supporters hope Latvia's president Raimonds Vējonis will grant a pardon. The president has said he will consider it. 

Bērziņš was convicted for participation in the 2009 riot in Riga but fled Latvia to avoid serving his sentence of one year and eight months, which was regarded as too harsh by some people.

During an online news conference via Skype in July 2016, Bērziņš announced that he felt let down by the Latvian state. As a young boy, he had actively participated in the drive for Latvia's independence but now the Latvian authorities want to put him in jail, he complained.

However, he did not deny that he had been throwing cobblestones at the Latvian parliament building during the riot, which soon afterwards contributed to the collapse of the government. 

On January 13, 2009, a peaceful protest against the government turned into a riot and over 50 rioters have been convicted, although only nine were given real jail terms. The conditional sentence given to Berzins by the court became a real jail term after he failed to register with the State Probation Service, which was one of the conditions of his conditional sentence.

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