Center Party paper publishes witness statements in Savisaar graft case (1)

Suspended Tallinn mayor Edgar Savisaar (Postimees/Scanpix)
7/7/2016 10:59 AM
Category: News

Kesknädal, an Estonian weekly close to Savisaar’s Center Party, published witness statements in the graft case against suspended Tallinn mayor Edgar Savisaar earlier this week. The paper followed a request by the Center Party’s chairman.

Savisaar himself wrote that he had finally had a chance to read the files of the case brought against him and that he was “perplexed” not to find anyone who supported his suspension from office.

“Not a single official of the city government or their departments states that I asked or demanded favors for certain business people in administrative proceedings,” Savisaar wrote. He went on to say that forcing someone out of office was a serious issue and directly affected the political landscape, especially if the suspended officer was the chairman of a large opposition party.

Kesknädal published the statements of 20 officials that had been questioned by authorities in the case.

“The statements of the witnesses show that there was no cause to suspend me from office. There’s no reason at all, in fact, as there is not a single witness to defend, as I don’t have a reason to influence them,” he added.

Prosecutor: Publication of witness statements is regrettable

Steven-Hristo Evestus, the prosecutor in charge of Savisaar’s case, said to ERR’s online news on Wednesday that the prosecutor’s office was regrettable. The material had been presented to Savisaar’s lawyers as part of the usual procedure and to give them a chance to familiarize with the materials collected during the investigation.

According to Evestus, Savisaar’s defense asked for additional time to go through the court files, pointing to the size and complicated nature of the matter. The prosecutor’s office had accommodated the defense, assuming that the time would be spent on dealing with the case, not preparing the publication of witness statements.

It was up to the court to determine guilt or innocence, Evestus pointed out. The State Prosecutor’s Office condemned Savisaar’s decision to resort to media battles, saying such a course was neither right nor did it respect law and order. “The witnesses were convinced that their testimonials would be used in the spirit of the law, not to shape public opinion leading up to the trial,” Evestus pointed out.

Savisaar is suspected of corruption, money laundering, and having accepted illegal political donations.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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