Tallinn Mayor and Estonian opposition leader Edgar Savisaar was suspended from his office on Wednesday by the Harju County Court.
Savisaar’s suspension is linked to the criminal investigation, following last week’s revelations that the mayor allegedly took bribes.
Prosecutor Laura Vaik said last week that she is seeking to have Savisaar suspended from office because he “could otherwise influence the investigation and seek to destroy or hide documentary evidence at the Tallinn City Government.”
Vaik added today that the city government’s employees are potential witnesses and Savisaar “could sway them” if he was to remain in his position.
Harju County Court’s decision will come into effect immediately, but Savisaar can appeal the ruling within ten days.
While Savisaar is suspended, the current deputy mayor Taavi Aas will assume mayoral duties.
Savisaar’s lawyer Oliver Nääs told ERR that his defense team will definitely dispute the court’s decision.
Nääs said that court’s decision is impractical. “First of all, it has been a week since Savisaar was named suspect – if he had wanted, he would have already influenced people, but nothing like this has taken place. Secondly, Savisaar is the leader of the Center Party, which is in power in Tallinn,” said Nääs, a reference to the fact that although Savisaar may be removed from the office, he will effectively remain in charge.
If the appeal fails, then according to Estonian laws, anyone whose employment has been terminated pending a criminal investigation can submit a request to court and ask for re-examination of the suspension, four months after the original ruling.
State's Prosecutor General Lavly Perling disclosed on Tuesday that Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar is suspect in episodes of corruption: unjustified extension of a lease contract for which he obtained benefits; allowing the construction of a house that lacked a building permit to continue in return for assets; exchange of land plots and promised compensation; and an episode connected to a tender, for which property or assets were obtained.
Following a tense day, Savisaar was taken to hospital on Wednesday, complaining heart problems, and underwent coronary angioplasty on Friday.
He was hospitalized with pre heart attack symptoms and the subsequent medical tests showed that one of his arteries suffered under critical vasoconstriction. Coronary angioplasty was performed on him on Friday morning, to widen narrowed sections of the heart. According to East-Tallinn Hospital, the operation was successful and without complications and Savisaar was allowed home today.
Savisaar has so far rejected all the accusations against him.
Editor: S. Tambur