09 December 2010

Latvia: 100 tombstones desecrated

Latvia's president condemned an attack on a Riga cemetery Wednesday.

President Vadis Zalters urged police to find the perpetrators - who desecrated some 100 tombstones with Nazi symbols - quickly, according to the European Jewish Press website. Other officials, including the prime minister and foreign minister, also blasted the attack.

Earlier Wednesday, state police spokeswoman Ieva Reksna told AFP that police officers had found around 100 tombstones spattered with white-paint swastikas.
A guard at the cemetery -- the only working Jewish burial ground in Riga -- spotted the defiled tombstones on Wednesday morning, Reksna said.  

Officials from Riga city council headed to the cemetery after news of the attack emerged, and mayor Nils Usakovs, who is on a visit to Russia, issued a statement condemning it.
Municipal police have now been ordered to boost patrols at the site.
The cemetery was also attacked in September 2003, following which five teens were sentenced to prison terms of from six months to three years.
Today, the Latvian Jewish community numbers less than 10,000 individuals in the general population of 2.2 million.

Prior to WWII, some 85,000 Jews lived there; 70,000 were murdered in Latvia or perished after deportation to concentration camps.     

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