Judge facing bribery charges given one-year unpaid leave

Tartu County Court house.
Tartu County Court house. Source: Postimees/Scanpi

Tartu County Court judge Eveli Vavrenjuk has been given a year-long period of unpaid leave following charges of bribery lodged last week, Baltic News Service reports.

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Villu Kõve signed the directive on Wednesday granting the extraordinary year-long unpaid leave, effective from Nov. 6.

Under Estonian law, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court may grant an extraordinary sabbatical for a judge for up to one year, provided the consent of the full bench at the judge's court supports it.

Kõve signed the directive on the basis of an application submitted by Vavrenjuk and the consent of the full court of the Tartu County Court convened on Tuesday.

Vavrenjuk faces charges of requesting and repeatedly accepting a bribe, presenting false information and the illegal disclosure of personal data.

Three others are also under suspicion, two of bribery and one of presenting false information, according to BNS.

Officials also searched the Kuklase & Partnerid law firm in central Tallinn on Thursday last week , and apprehended sworn advocate Olev Kuklase, under suspicion of bribery

Chief State Prosecutor Taavi Pern did not apply for the suspects to be placed into custody as he did not deem them likely to abscond or continue to commit criminal offenses, it is reported. The suspects were released following initial procedural acts.

The criminal investigation is being led by the Office of the Prosecutor General and conducted by the Internal Security Service (ISS).

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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