Senior Judge Disagrees with Decision to Ban Journalist From Courtroom ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

Business daily Äripäev has reported that the head judge of Harju County Court disagrees with a decision by one of her judges to banish a journalist from the courtroom due in part to a critical opinion piece.

Harju County Court judge Helve Särgava told Äripäev, whose journalist Katariina Krjutškova fell out of good graces with judge Anu Uritam, that the decision was "not just" and that she would speak to Uritam.

"If one outlet is allowed in and another isn't because some article has been penned, I don't consider this just," she said.

Mart Raudsaar, the head of the Estonian Newspaper Association, said he detected a wider trend of "refusing to provide information unless the attitude from journalists was to our liking." He said it could also be seen in barring some publications from post-election parties.

Raudsaar said a ban on a single journalist was by extension a sanction on an entire editorial staff and all of the media. "It also doesn't look good because Autorollo is a politically sensitive topic," he added.

The Autorollo case involves Environment Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus.

In the scandal, KredEx, the state export credit and guarantee fund, was one of the leading creditors in a bankrupt company owned by the minister's father. The court is sifting through the circumstances under which the state body co-signed a large loan taken by the company, Autorollo.

The journalist, Katariina Krjutškova, wrote several opinion pieces in the daily, questioning the independence of Anu Uritam.