Council of Jewish Communities of Latvia and several victims have applied to the General Prosecutor of the Republic of Latvia with a request to resume criminal proceedings against Herberts Cukurs.

As is known, in October 2018 the prosecutor of the Division of Investigation of Especially Serious Cases of the Criminal Justice Department of the Prosecutor General’s Office took a decision to terminate criminal proceedings No. 12812000506 in view of the fact that “component elements of a crime under Section 71 of the Criminal Law have not been established” in the activities of Cukurs.

The application for resuming criminal proceedings against Herberts Cukurs provides an indication of new significant circumstances, previously unknown to the Prosecutor Office.  In particular, witness statements of a person who lives in Israel and who saw Cukurs and observed his actions in the territory of Riga Ghetto while convoying prisoners to Rumbula to the place of mass executions in autumn of 1941, and also recollections of Abram Shapiro presented by his heirs.

The Shapiro family was ousted by Cukurs from their apartment and then he occupied it, having appropriated their personal things and belongings. Abram Shapiro, aged 16, was sent by Cukurs to forced labour at a garage of the Arajs Kommando. In addition to that, he was brought specially and was made to play piano to entertain members of the Arajs Kommando who gathered for drinking. His father was arrested at the start of the Nazi occupation, put into the Central Prison and then killed. Abram, together with his mother, later got to Riga Ghetto, where his mother died. After World War II, Mr Shapiro settled in the USA. He died in 2013, and now his heirs apply in order to be acknowledged as victims of the criminal activities of Cukurs, entailing moral and material damage to the Shapiro family.

Council of Jewish Communities of Latvia emphasises that, “apart from the newly revealed facts and circumstances, there are numerous other pieces of evidence of the criminal activities of Cukurs, collected and duly documented in different countries in the after-war period. Council of Jewish Communities of Latvia states that the Prosecutor Office has rejected such evidence, having not reviewed it on the merits. References to such facts and materials are provided in the submitted application.

It is quite surprising that the issue of the criminal nature of the so-called Arajs Kommando in this case has not been considered at all. Whereas it is unequivocally known and proven that Arajs Kommando was directly subordinated to Einsatzgruppe A – a constituent part of the German Sicherheitsdienst (SD) («Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers SS»), which was acknowledged as a criminal organisation by the Nuremberg Tribunal and the special Nuremberg Einsatzgruppe case verdict.

Regrettably, almost all witnesses of these events have already passed away. However, this circumstance may not be an obstacle for the restoration of human and historical justice; every new fact and every opportunity to collect new evidence and data allowing one to establish the truth should be treated with care and responsibility.

Council of Jewish Communities of Latvia and the victims request to restore the criminal proceedings regarding the crimes of Herberts Cukurs, in view of the availability of new facts, documentary evidence and victims. Council of Jewish Communities of Latvia and the victims rely on impartial, fast and transparent consideration of this case, which has to take into account the practice, approach and experience accumulated by the world’s justice in cases of crimes against humanity and Nazi crimes. On its part, Council of Jewish Communities of Latvia and the victims are ready to provide every possible assistance as may be required within the framework of the proceedings.”

Council of Jewish Communities of Latvia