Viewing cable 08RIGA587
Title: SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE BICKOVICS LIVES UP TO

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
08RIGA5872008-09-23 13:08:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Riga
VZCZCXRO9449
RR RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHRA #0587 2671308
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 231308Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY RIGA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5263
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L RIGA 000587 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/22/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PINR KCOR KJUS LG
SUBJECT: SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE BICKOVICS LIVES UP TO 
REPUTATION 
 
REF: A. A. RIGA 322 
     ¶B. B.RIGA 565 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Charles W. Larson Jr. for reason 1.4(b) 
 
¶1. (C) Summary: New Latvian Supreme Court Chief Justice Ivars 
Bickovics assured the Ambassador that not much would change 
in the Court, and outlined his initiatives, such as a new 
judicial council and a strategy for protecting the salaries 
of judges. He stated that, if the law could be changed, there 
were several justices who could be qualified to take the 
position as the director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau 
(KNAB). Bickovics was critical of Prosecutor General Janis 
Maizitis, stating that his office was responsible for the 
indecision surrounding jurisdiction for trying the Lembergs 
case, and did not expected Maizitis to run for a third term 
in 2010.  Bearing out previous reporting on this change of 
leadership in the Supreme Court (ref a) Bickovics was 
critical of the mass media, markedly supportive of the judges 
and generally open to communication with the U.S. Embassy. 
End Summary 
 
¶2. (C) On September 18 Ambassador Larson met with Chief 
Justice Bickovics.  Bickovics stated that, although new to 
the position, he knew the current issues well and did not 
expect much to change in the Court.  He said that he intends 
to build a judicial council.  This organization will produce 
more unified decisions on court priorities, which judges 
previously determined individually.  Bickovics also touched 
on the issue of judges, salaries.  As a potential budget 
crisis looms nationally, he was concerned that judicial 
salaries could suffer.  He has spoken with Constitutional 
Court Chief Justice Kutris, and they both believe they have a 
strong legal argument for continuing the annual increases 
that judges have enjoyed until now, even though the 
government wants to change the law that ensures those 
increases. 
 
--------------- 
Selection of the KNAB Chief 
--------------- 
 
¶4. (C) Bickovics stated that he had met with PM Godmanis to 
discuss possible candidates for the KNAB Chief position. 
Bickovics characterized a qualified candidate as someone who 
had experience with criminal cases, investigations and 
operational activities.  He asserted that a change in current 
law is necessary to allow judges who qualify for the post (or 
any other appointed post) to go back to being a judge if they 
eventually leave the KNAB chief job.  Bickovics believed 
there were two or three justices who might qualify.  He 
stated, however, that "the first candidate, no matter whom, 
would not be confirmed" because of the intense pressure from 
the mass media. 
 
-------------- 
Prosecutor General 
-------------- 
 
¶5. (C) Bickovics explained that the Lembergs case "hot 
potato" (ref b.) was the result of mistakes made by the 
Prosecutor General's office.  He stated that Maizitis should 
have originally assigned the Lembergs case to the 
Riga Regional Court, but deferred to the Supreme Court 
because Maizitis' office "perhaps doubted their competence". 
Bickovics stated that the Riga Municipal 
Court is the last stop for the Lembergs case, but offered no 
timeline for completion. 
 
¶6. (C) Concerning Maizitis himself, Bickovics was less than 
enthusiastic.  He stated that Maizitis, work has been 
acceptable and that he would stay the remainder of this term 
(2010) but would not expect him to seek a third.  Bickovics 
believed that the Prosecutor General,s office could improve 
its investigation techniques, pointing to the investigation 
of Aivars Lembergs on abuse of office charges (of which 
Lembergs was acquitted). 
 
¶7. (C) Comment: The conversation with Bickovics was open, 
positive and tracked with what we were told to expect. 
Bickovics has taken on the position of the judges, union 
steward, fighting for their rights and salaries, and, in 
matters of law, proclaiming that the public must trust the 
judiciary to make the right decisions.  His distrust of the 
mass media may distance him and his Court from the public, 
potentially giving the appearance of non-transparency. End 
Comment 
LARSON