Police frees Kazakh family taken hostage in Latvia
Citizens of Kazakhstan have taken hostage a family of their compatriots in Latvia to obtain their property in Almaty, Tengrinews reports citing Delfi.lv.
According to Latvian police, they got the information about an organised criminal group keeping a Kazakh family of four hostage back in early March. The family - father, mother and their two daughters of eight and six years old - was residing in Latvia. They were held in an apartment, but the police was having trouble establishing their exact location.
The criminals were demanding that the father of the woman taken hostage re-registered some of this property in Almaty to a different name. The cost of the property was estimated at $400,000. The hostages were not previously familiar with their captors.
When the police found the exact address where the victims were held, it was decided to conduct a hostage rescue operation. Police and Special Forces neutralized the criminal group, who turned out to be citizens of Kazakhstan as well.
"The operation did not last long. We received information about the hostages, found their location after some time, and a few hours later freed them. Everything went very quickly," the spokesman of Latvia state police Dayris Anuchins said.
At the time the building was stormed by the police all the hostages and two of the criminals were in the apartment. The two criminals were citizens of Kazakhstan born in 1985 and 1990. The suspects were arrested on the spot and their accomplices – Kazakhstanis, born in 1966 and 1968 - were arrested a little later.
"The investigation believes that the criminal operation was prepared in advance. They arrived in Latvia with the purpose of committing this crime, shortly before the incident itself. The detainees knew the family and had the information that the relative of the family had property in Kazakhstan," Anuchins explained.
At the moment, all four criminals are under arrest. The case is being investigated. The criminals are facing 15 years in prison, according to Anuchins.
All of the persons involved in the incident are now in Latvia, Anuchins said. The four detained Kazakhstani citizens will remain in jail for the duration of the investigation. They are prosecuted on two counts: "unlawful deprivation of liberty of another person" and "extortion as part of an organized group."
The speaker said that Latvian authorities were not considering extradition of the the four citizens of Kazakhstan at the time. "The crime was committed at the territory of Latvia, and the whole case is considered under the laws of Latvia; the court hearings will also take place here. What happens next is not yet known," he said.
As for the victims, they are being provided with all the necessary psychological help. "The family that was taken hostage resides in Latvia. Details are being collected. At the moment the victims are learning about how damage resulting from the incident can be compensated. But there have been no specific claims coming from them so far," the police spokesman said.
The official representative and special envoy of Kazakhstan’s MFA Altai Abibullayev wrote on his Twitter page: "The incident with the citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Riga is month-old. The conflict is purely private in nature; our consul is in touch with the local police.”
By Dinara Urazova (Vladimir Prokopenko contributed to the story). Editing by Tatyana Kuzmina