Prosecution concludes plea deals with 11 defendants in organized crime trial
The Office of the Prosecutor General concluded agreements on punishments with 11 members of a group currently on trial for multiple charges including organized crime. The plea deals mean that the trial will likely soon be over for those defendants, while the others will remain on trial under general procedure.
Negotiations on a plea agreement were begun with 18 accused persons at the beginning of summer. State prosecutor Andres Ulviste said at Thursday's hearing in the first-tier Harju County Court that talks were constructive with regard to 11 defendants.
In Ulviste's words, both sides sought a reasonable compromise and the prosecution too made certain concessions. Ple deals proved impossible to make with four defendants: Andres Vaik, Ats Pärnaste, Runno Kristjuhan and Peep Havik. Agreements were reached, however, with Capital Inkasso OÜ, OÜ Barbarossa Invest, Assar Paulus, Taago Vool, Jaanus Kivimaa, Ragnar Toom, German Svetsnikov, Erik Meier, Virgo Raudsepp, Gennadi Starodubtsev and Sivart Saarmann.
These agreements must be confirmed by the court.
On June 10, 2015, Harju County Court began handling a large-scale case known in the media as the "Assar Paulus case" after the alleged head of what prosecutors claimed was an organized crime group.
In the case, three men, including Paulus, stand accused of heading a criminal organization, and 18 men and one woman of belonging to a criminal organization. Altogether 26 people and two companies have been charged in relation to the case.
According to the charges, Paulus, now 53, headed a criminal group beginning in early 2006. The group engaged in drug crimes, extortion as well as economic crimes. According to the charge sheet, it was Paulus who gave commands in the criminal group for organizing and committing crimes as well as distributing monetary gains.
State prosecutor Kati Reitsak has previously said that it was a very extensive and persistent criminal group.
Two companies are also accused of belonging to a criminal group — OU Capital Inkasso and OU Barbarossa Invest.
Charges include human trafficking, extortion, money laundering, unlawful handling of firearms, forging of documents, tax evasion and giving false testimonies.