The recipient of the Justice Ministry's civic heroism award has stepped forward in a personal appeal to the public after the media brought to light his conviction for a 2005 assault.
Maiko Arras said yellow journalism was used as a tool of revenge. He said gang-beating a person as a 17-year-old was shameful and he was not looking for excuses, but that he has now had to pay more than enough for his actions.
"The question posed by the journalist - 'May I ask for comment for Postimees in connection to the situation that has arisen in relation to the civic heroism award?' For me, this situation is not connected to the award; my reputation and the situation did not arise in of itself - the journalist created it," Arras said in a Facebook post that he gave permission to publish on Postimees, the newspaper that brought Arras's record to light.
He continued: "I don't think the ministry made a mistake; they gave a citizen hope that society has not forced him into a corner over a previous mistake. I thank them for that."
Arras said his record had only recently been cleared, on October 31.
"The punishment I received in 2008 was finally in the archive. It gave me hope as a normal person to apply for a job in Estonia after finishing university. That hope disappeared on the morning of November 24, because I had been publicly crucified on the interminable Internet, confirming the old adage 'an Estonian's favorite food is another Estonian,'" Arras said.
"I am disappointed. My wish to live in this country and to help my loved ones when needed was razed to the ground on one beautiful Sunday morning. I have paid for my actions more than I should have had to."