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Latvian police reject criminal case over meteorite hoax

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Latvian police decided not to initiate a criminal investigation over the hoax meteorite strike staged in the Baltic state by a Latvian mobile operator, the Delfi web portal said on Tuesday.

RIGA, October 27 (RIA Novosti) - Latvian police decided not to initiate a criminal investigation over the hoax meteorite strike staged in the Baltic state by a Latvian mobile operator, the Delfi web portal said on Tuesday.

The web portal quoted local assistant police chief Ilze Ungure as saying no applications were received by police concerning the damage caused by the hoax, and there were no grounds for opening a criminal case.

Latvian media reported on Monday that a celestial body fell near a residential house on the outskirts of the town of Mazsalaca in the Valmiera district of Latvia on Sunday, leaving a crater some 20 meters (66 feet) in diameter and 10 meters (33 feet) deep.

Video footage showed a fire at the bottom of the crater. A witness, who said he saw the object falling, described a burning trail in the sky and a noise similar to that made by an aircraft flying at low altitude.

Latvian and Estonian scientists who studied the site said on Monday the meteorite story was a fake.

On Monday, the Latvian mobile operator Tele2 said it was involved in staging the hoax after Latvian Interior Minister Linda Murniece vowed to recoup the costs of investigating the incident.

Earlier on Tuesday, Murniece said Tele2 was to pay at least $26,000 in damages, adding that the Interior Ministry would discontinue a contract with Tele2.

"People should be held accountable for such jokes," she said.

 

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