Two suspects remain in Riga hostel fire criminal case

Two persons are left among the accused in the criminal procedure regarding a devastating fire at a hostel in Riga.
After the fire police detained six people. Two were put under arrest. One of them is businessman Ernests Rieksts.
Latvian State Police Public Relations Office representative Krista Andersone says the persons who were under arrest have had their security measure replaced to a security measure not associated with deprivation of freedom. Nevertheless, those people remain suspects.
Criminal procedure has been discontinued for four people because the investigation revealed no signs of crimes in their actions.
The criminal investigation continues. Unfortunately, it is currently unknown when forensic examinations could conclude.
Nine people died and several were injured in a fire that broke out at some illegal hostel in Riga, Merķeļa Street 8. All of them are Latvian citizen.
Police have classified the case as violation of fire safety rules and unregistered entrepreneurship or performance of business activities without a special permit.
SIA Hospitality Solutions, which, according to the State Labour Inspectorate (VDI), is responsible for the illegal hostel in question. The inspectorate reported that the hostel in question had been in the sights for some time, adding that disciplinary actions had been taken on multiple occasions (unregistered employment, withholding wages, etc.).
VDI reports having received 11 complaints about this company – most of them about employees not being paid wages. The inspectorate responded by contacting the company, but representatives refused to cooperate. This resulted in two administrative penalties.
Additionally, the company was also penalized twice for unregistered employment. Inspections were performed at multiple addresses. According to VDI, the company owns multiple hostels. In May 2020 the company changed its name from SIA Riga Hostel to SIA Hospitality Solutions.
According to the inspection, unregistered employment was found at the hostel located on Merķeļa Street 1. As for the hostel located on Merķeļa Street 8, where the fire broke out, no penalties were previously issued.
According to information from, in 2019 Hospitality Solutions worked with turnover of EUR 126 538 and profits of EUR 2 745. The company was registered in 2005 with base capital of EUR 2 840. Lithuanian citizen Arūns Skupeika is the company’s sole owner.
Previously Rieksts was mentioned in the press as the owner of hostels, hostel manager and «the biggest hostel owner in Baltic States».
Information from states that Rieksts once owned multiple other companies, but all of them have since been liquidated. There is no data available that would indicate his ties to the businesses he owns or work in their management boards.
Police eventually tracked him down. He did release an audio recording prior to his apprehension. In it, he claimed the police are looking for him because politicians want positive PR. He also claimed what burned down in Riga wasn’t a hostel – it was a rented apartment. He also claimed fire safety in that apartment was «high» and «smoke detectors were everywhere».
Rieksts claimed he hadn’t been to that particular apartment for a year and a half, adding that «there were other people in charge of everything there».