On Thursday, 2 June, Latvia’s Saeima decided to allow criminal prosecution of 13th Saeima deputy Mārtiņš Bondars, BNN was told by Saeima press-service.
The parliament made this decision after studying the report from the Mandates, Ethics and Submissions Committee. The Prosecutor General’s Office submitted to the parliament the request to permit Bondars’ criminal prosecution.
As previously reported, following the request for criminal prosecution, Bondars decided to step down as chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee. He also has no plans to run in 14th Saeima elections.
According to the prosecution, Bondars, his wife Ieva Bondare and the late sworn notary Līga Eglīte had falsified and used a fake document, causing substantial damage to the plaintiff’s legally protected interests.
This offence is punishable with a prison sentence of up to four years, short-term deprivation of freedom with probation, community service or fine.
Since notary Līga Eglīte has passed away, the criminal procedure against her is terminated.
Bondars said at the meeting of the Mandates Committee that he is not guilty, that he has done nothing wrong.
According to Bondars, the prosecution is engaged in a «lossless strategy», because the politician sees no way for deputies could vote in favour of his prosecution during the pre-election period.
The politician suggested deputies to vote in favour of his prosecution to «undermine the prosecution’s 14th Saeima pre-election campaign».
During the press-conference the followed the meeting, Bondars said he is «shocked and surprised» with such a turn of events in this case. He asked if the case launched in summer 2018 and later left on the shelf was pulled out now solely to go at him now. Although law enforcement institutions have their own strategy, the politician said this is more than odd for the request of his prosecution being submitted a week prior to the start of 14th Saeima promotion period.
When asked if Bondars considers this a political order, the politician said the question is about «liquidators of the bank» who previously wasted its finances and are now looking for a scapegoat.
Rules of Order of Saeima state that the parliament is to vote on permitting criminal prosecution of members of the Saeima based on a report from the Mandates Committee.
According to Bondars’ defence attorney Mārtiņš Kvēps, the office of the prosecutor requests criminal prosecution of his client for a possible forgery of a marriage agreement’s section on family property status.
Riga Court District prosecutor Madara Griķe said the criminal procedure in this criminal case had started as far back as 2018 – before Bondars became a deputy of the13th Saeima.
She explained there is nothing indicating Bondars’ criminal prosecution could somehow impact Saeima’s work. The prosecutor also said that evaluation of evidence is the responsibility of a court of law.
If Bondars is prosecuted for violations committed in the marriage contract regarding the status of his family’s property, only his private life will be affected, adding that this has nothing to do with his political career, said Griķe. The prosecutor hopes the Saeima will finally end the long-standing practice of putting obstacles in the way of criminal investigations.
Bondars’ defence attorney Kvēps claimed during the meeting that the documents submitted to the Saeima by the prosecutor indicate that the last active investigation activities were done in 2019, whereas in 2020 only insignificant documents were received in the case. Kvēps said he is confused why the prosecution office reached the conclusion that Bondars should be brought to justice without any new evidence. He also said the criminal prosecution is requested not after the police have completed the pre-trial investigation but after the case was «taken away» from the police, Kvēps said.
Kvēps also referenced criteria of the European Parliament that are used to determine if a criminal procedure is not suspicious or politically motivated. Usually political motives hide behind other cases, said the defence attorney.
According to the prosecutor, the claim that the last investigative activities were done in 2019 is untrue. She stressed that she became the supervisory prosecutor over this criminal procedure a year ago – 5 May 2021. The prosecutor also said that only once the case reached her did the investigation started working on the notary activities angle.
Kvēps also said he is confused why the sworn notary’s assistant who did not coordinate the text of the document with Bondars is not to be brought to justice for the forgery.
If the Saeima permits criminal prosecution of one of its members, this person will still be able to continue working in the Saeima, participate in meetings and committees, including vote and receive a full wage.