I’m writing this in english so english reading people could read this too.
On approximately 31st july, Dave Birinkshaw, a 33 years old Rolls-Royce factory worker and Matthew Neal, a 35 years old civil engineer, arrived at Riga International Airport to be arrested and sent to Riga Centralcietums (Riga Central Prison). They both face charges in assaulting police officer case.
Edited (03-08-2009): I was wrong. Information in Latvian portal led to believe me Dave and Matthew are being sent last weekend stright away. As it turns out in portals edited version, that is only the court decision that could be appealed (as it happened, I guess). Guess there will be more waiting, suing, court processing etc. As this article gets a lot of traffic from facebook profiles of british people and has many colorful comments under it then some have read the false info. I appologise for incorrect information. If, however, someone has been sent or court process has gone completely other way even now – I am not aware of it yet.
Today, 03.08.2009., this source reports that both are in custody in Riga Central Prison and today in court they were presented with case. Current term offer is set to 7 years in prison, not 13 years with confiscation. That means Matthew and Dave (their advocates) will fight for something between freedom and 7 years, including the border points.
According to this article, in 13th July of 2008 a fight broke out in Riga old town pub between drunk british company and other pub visitors. A nearby police officer in uniform was asked to resolve the situation. When he approached the arguing sides, he was struck down and pinned with legs. The situation was filmed by police cameras and as they saw the situation, more police officers were dispatched. At the place of situation only one man was arrested, others fled. Man in custody was with british nationality and he was sent to nearest police station.
The officer who was injured got a head concusion. British persons who fled were later recognised as Mr. Birinkshaw and Mr. Neal as they later were arrested as well. All british people were said to be heavily drunk.
The judge ruled arrested to be released before the court with a bailout of 8000 Ls. Arrested trio got out and immedeately left the country without paying anything. Police issued international search warrant and the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court agreed to send accused persons back to Latvia for court hearing one year later.
Mr. Birinkshaw and Mr. Neal each were planning to held a wedding with their fiancees this summer, but now they seem to be surprised it wouldn’t come true so fast. Both face 13 years in prison with confiscating their property.
Both are terrified of being held in Riga Central prison. And they should be – even the former president labeled this prison as inhuman place. Without proper financing and being the main holding prison of pre-trial period, this facility is at critical state of maintaining basic facilities for prisoners. Comparing to british prisons, this place seems like hell. Prisoners are allowed to use their own TV’s, radios, fridges, wather heaters and receive money to buy products from the prison shop.
The prison director assured journalists – new inhabitants would not be placed in one cell with heavyweight prisoners. Living in cell by 8 people or more, the possible cellmates of Mr. Neal and Mr. Birinkshaw would likely be there for their first time too. They will most likely learn basic russian to communicate with other prisoners.
Why am I writing about this? Drunken brits were seen all around old town in pre-crisis period, now they rate this place as expensive. While they were celebrating their bachelor parties, they got carried away with cheap drinks and problems were imminent. Peeing twice on national momuments and beating up an police officer was the loudest what brits have done. Maybe Latvia needs to add an advertisement in airBaltic flights that show pictures of Central prison and warn potential drunkards of where they could wake up.