Aivars Lembergs will be tried in spoken proceedings in the appellate instance after all
The case will therefore be heard in spoken proceedings. The first hearing is scheduled for January 24 next year.
The panel of the court rejected the idea of a written procedure, after getting acquainted with the objections received regarding the hearing of the case in a written procedure from Aivars Lembergs, his lawyers Māris Grudulis, Olga Hincenberga, Irina Kauke; from businessman Anrijs Lembergs and his lawyer Oskars Rode; from businessman Ansis Sormulis and his lawyer Jānis Rozenbergs, as well as from the owner of the infringed property Līga Lemberga.
Prosecutor Aivis Zalužinskis and victim Ainārs Gulbis had no objections to the written process.
In his request to the court, A. Lembergs has indicated that the course of the appellate instance in the written procedure will violate the right to defense provided for in the Criminal Procedure Law, the Law On Judicial Power, the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights. He emphasized, among other things, that it was not possible to make an acquittal in the written procedure; his current counsel has not had a procedural opportunity to question him and other defendants, as well as witnesses and victims, to obtain relevant evidence for an acquittal.
Attorney M. Grudulis also emphasized in his request to the court, among other things, that he and O. Hincenberga have participated in this process only from the stage of the court hearing of the first instance, thus they did not have the opportunity to question the accused in order to obtain relevant evidence for acquittal. The lawyer emphasized that the right to obtain evidence could not be exercised if the case was heard in a written procedure.
Lawyer O. Hincenberga mentioned in her request, among other things, that the court has the right to order a hearing in writing, but this right is not absolute and can be exercised only in the absence of other alternative measures that effectively protect public health and safety. The lawyer explained that “in the present case, the adjudication of the criminal case in a written procedure as a measure restricting the spread of the Covid-19 infection is disproportionate to the infringement of the rights caused to Aivars Lembergs. The purpose of the Law on the Management of the Spread of Covid-19 Infection can be achieved by means less restrictive on Aivars Lembergs' rights, hearing the case in spoken proceedings and, if necessary to achieve epidemiological safety objectives, by videoconferencing, as provided for in Section 101 of the Law on the Management of the Spread of Covid-19 Infection.”
Lawyer I. Kauke explained to the court that in the written procedure the communication with the court takes place in writing, “which, taking into account the prison conditions and his state of health,
is unjustifiably burdensome to Aivars Lembergs. In the spoken proceedings, Aivars Lembergs would have the opportunity to ask questions to the victim Ainārs Gulbis in connection with his appeal, in the written proceedings he is denied this opportunity.”
Lawyer O. Rode argued, among other things, that the hearing of a case in a written procedure will not be able to fully ensure the defendant's right to a fair trial, because Section 563 (1.1) of the Criminal Procedure Law does not provide for the right of the appellate court to make an acquittal in a written proceeding. "Consequently, the decision to give judgment in a written procedure gives rise, to some extent, to the presumption that the appellate court has an existing idea of what the outcome of the case should be."
The Criminal Chamber of the Riga Regional Court (Judges Sandra Amola, Signe Kalniņa and Lauma Šteinerte), assessing the objections received regarding the hearing of the criminal case in a written procedure, has acknowledged that “the requests for the hearing of the case in a spoken procedure are justified and satisfactory. On the basis of the above and in accordance with Sections 559, 560, 561 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Law, Section 12 (1) of the Law on the Management of the Spread of Covid-19 Infection, the Criminal Court Chamber decided to satisfy the requests of the accused Aivars Lembergs, defense counsel Māris Grudulis, Olga Hincenberga, Irina Kauke, Oskars Rode, Jānis Rozenbergs, and the owner of the infringed property Līga Lemberga for a spoken hearing.”
The court not only announced the first spoken hearing, and also announced the schedule of subsequent hearings until the end of May next year.