The Estonian Bar Association has asked the Ministry of Justice for additional 440,000 euros for providing free state legal aid, as the large trials of organized crime group heads Assar Paulus and Haron Dikajev have been a drain on available resources and the current deficit suggests that remaining resources will run out by mid-November.
"A deficit in the budget of funding state legal aid basically means that by the middle of November, the money meant for providing free legal aid might run out," Jaanus Tehver, a board member at the Estonian Bar Association, explained. "On the one hand, the shortage is indeed the result of the large trials of Paulus and Dikajev, but on the other, the absence of a reserve has been an important issue for years." He noted that the latter issue had been brought up on many occasions already.
Either way, according to Tehver, a deficit in the legal aid budget could lead to a situation in which people who need free legal aid might not be able to get it.
The bar association is requesting that the ministry form a position regarding the association's request and provide feedback within ten business days. The association is also expecting to receive an overview of how the state is planning to organize free state legal aid in 2017.
State legal aid is providing state-paid legal aid for an individual who is unable to pay for competent legal aid on their own.
The Estonian Bar Association has previously been allocated nearly four million euros with which to provide and organize state legal aid in 2016.
Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla