At its Sunday congress, the Center Party voted near-unanimously to change its own statutes, deleting a rule which expels any party member who receives a guilty criminal verdict in a court. This will allow party secretary general Priit Toobal and former MP Lauri Laasi to stay in the party, having received a finalized guilty court decision last week.
Deputy Chairman Kadri Simson said the change in rules will bring the party in line with other political parties in Estonia as now only EKRE ejects members automatically after a guilty verdict. The Center Party's board will now decide each case separately.
A total of 410 delegates voted for the change, with 21 against.
The board will now have to decide the fate of Toobal and Laasi, both MPs who were found guilty for instigating unauthorized surveillance, and both were ejected from the Parliament. Party Chairman Edgar Savisaar himself is a suspect in a bribery case.
“Our planned changes in rules untie the Center Party from Estonia's legal system. This is a civilized vote of no confidence against the prosecution, ISS (Internal Security Service) and the courts. We do not trust them as we have seen them work,” Savisaar said at the congress on Sunday.
Editor: J.M. Laats