Harju County Court decided on Wednesday to significantly scale back the disclosure of audio recordings obtained in surveillance of defendants in the trial of suspended Tallinn mayor and former longtime Center Party chairman Edgar Savisaar.
The motion for the court to limit the disclosure of eavesdropping records was made by lawyers for the defense, who argued that in many of the recordings there was very little having to do with the specific charges. The court agreed, saying that many of the recordings indeed were just personal conversations of the persons subject to the proceedings, having no direct relation to the charges.
Lead Public Prosecutor Steven-Hristo Evestus also agreed.
Consequently, the court will not play many of the recordings in the courtroom, but the recordings will be kept with the court materials as pieces of evidence.
Since the court decided to refrain from playing out the recordings in full, the Wednesday's hearing ended at 2 p.m.
The trial is set to continue with the hearing of Paavo Pettai, former campaign master of the Center Party, as a witness on Thursday.
Teder first witness to testify in case on Wednesday
The first witness, businessman Tarvo Teder, is to testify in the trial of suspended Talllinn mayor and former longtime Center Party chairman Edgar Savisaar in Harju County Court on Wednesday.
Teder's testimony is planned to take place in the first half of Wednesday's hearing, for which only Savisaar is required to be in the courtroom. Later, the court will continue reviewing audio recordings of phone calls, during which defendants Hillar Teder, Alexander Kofkin and Aivar Tuulberg will have to join Savisaar in the courtroom.
On Thursday, the court will hear testimony from businessman Paavo Pettai, one of the primary witnesses of the Office of the Prosecutor General who escaped criminal charges in exchange for providing testimony in the course of the pretrial investigation.
According to the charges against him, Teder, as a representative of AS Phoenix Land, asked Savisaar in November 2014 to help him more quickly change the detailed plan of a Rimi store location in Tallinn's Põhja-Tallinn district. Savisaar said he would be willing to do so if Teder and businessman Sonny Aswani, who was interested in changing the detailed plan more quickly, would support the Center Party financially. Savisaar also allegedly said at the time that if Teder or Aswani did not support the party, changing the detailed plan would not be discussed by the city before the end of 2015.
Charges against Savisaar
The Office of the Prosecutor General has charged Savisaar in using Tallinn city budgetary funds for the benefit of the Center Party and himself, i.e. embezzlement on a large-scale basis, by an official and by a group, as well as in four cases of accepting bribes, money laundering and the acceptance of prohibited large-scale donations to the Center Party. The Center Party has also been charged as a legal entity.
Charged with bribing Savisaar are businessmen Aivar Tuulberg, Alexander Kofkin, Hillar Teder and Vello Kunman. Tallinn City Council chairman Kalev Kallo has been charged with assisting in the making and accepting of bribes; former politician Villu Reiljan is charged with arranging a bribe of Savisaar. Põhja-Tallinn deputy city district elder Priit Kutser has also had to stand trial.
Harju County Court on Aug. 9 separated materials pertaining to Reiljan from the criminal case in order to pursue a plea deal with the businessman.
Editor: Aili Vahtla