Real Jail Time Sought for Officials, Businessmen in High Profile Corruption Case

12/16/2011 9:40 AM
Category: Society

Public prosecutors called for real jail time for most of the officials and businessmen accused in a land exchange case before Harju County Court on December 15.

In the scandal, which broke in 2006, a number of private real estate developers allegedly paid bribes to trade low-value rural properties for high-value urban lots.

The only one of the defendants for whom a suspended sentence was sought was ex-Agriculture Minister Ester Tuiksoo.

For the rest of the officials and businessmen in the long-running case - hailing from a variety of different parties - the prosecution is calling for real jail time.

One of them, ex-Environment Minister and former chairman of the People's Union Villu Reiljan, was convicted of asking for a bribe in 2009 and received a suspended sentence. After many delays of hearings, he is now again in the dock.

Reiljan, along with ex-Agriculture Minister Ester Tuiksoo and Land Board head Kalev Kangur, is accused of accepting kickbacks to ensure that three businessmen could conduct transactions with land under nature conservation

For Reiljan, who would be a repeat offender, prosecutors are calling for four years behind bars, all but six months of which would be suspended.

The ex-director of the Land Board Kalev Kangur faces five years for accepting bribes; he, too, would have to serve six months in prison.

Merko Ehitus AS majority stakeholder Toomas Annus (50) faces three years for giving bribes, with six months behind bars. Merko and another company are also defendants as legal persons and face large fines. 

And Tarmo Pedjasaar, a former member of IRL's board in the Tartu area would have to serve four months of two and a half year sentence.

TSM director Einar Vettus and Saarte Investeeringud director Tullio Liblik are also accused of giving bribes.

Kristopher Rikken

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