Harju County Court ruled on Thursday that the exclusion of Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar, who is under criminal investigation, from office must continue. Defense attorney Oliver Naas, however, found that this exclusion from office and the investigation itself were both starting to look like a punishment.
"This is not proper or the real legal goal of removing [him] from office, as Edgar Savisaar has not been found guilty," found Naas.
According to the defense attorney, the court found that it was not possible to assess based on witness statements whether or not Savisaar was guilty. He added that when the court has enough information to decide that there is a danger that Savisaar could influence witnesses in the case, it should also have sufficient information to decide that there is no danger of Savisaar influencing witnesses.
At Tuesday's hearing, Naas found that the mayor should be allowed to resume his duties, but Chief State Prosecutor Steven-Hristo Evestus did not agree.
Among other factors, Evestus pointed out that on June 6, the longtime leader of the Center Party published the statements of witnesses who had been questioned in the course of the alleged graft case against him on the website of the party's weekly Kesknädal. In the prosecutor's opinion, this alone could be considered an attempt to influence witnesses.
Evestus took the position that Savisaar should not be allowed to return to office until the conclusion of the case.
Longtime Center Party Chairman and Mayor of Tallinn Edgar Savisaar is accused of accepting bribes and forbidden donations to his party as well as money-laundering. Other suspects in the case include Tallinn City Council Chairman Kalev Kallo, prominent businessmen Hillar Teder, Vello Kunman, Aivar Tuulberg, Alexander Kofkin and Paavo Pettai, as well as former politician Villu Reiljan.
Editor: Editor: Aili Sarapik