Government releases rural affairs ministry Secretary General Illar Lemetti

Illar Lemetti.
Illar Lemetti. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The coalition government opted to release Ministry of Rural Affairs Secretary General Illar Lemetti from his post on Monday morning, ERR reports.

The decision came following an extraordinary government sitting, held over the phone, and comes after rural affairs minister Mart Järvik requested Lemetti be released from his post on the basis of non-cooperation.

According to the Civil Service Act, a Secretary General may be released from service before the end of their contract if, in the minister's opinion, cooperation has not been achieved after a minimum six-month period of work.

This deadline passed on Oct. 29, with Järvik making the request earlier in November. However, the release required governmental assent.

A government press conference at 10.40 is scheduled where the matter is to be explained further by Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre), the government office says.

Readers with Estonian can watch the press conference here.

Lemetti had been a key figure in controversy surround Mart Järvik, claiming that the latter had declined to sign a mandate which would have allowed the agricultural registers and information board (PRIA) to claim damages in an EU subsidies fraud case in which it was plaintiff. Järvik's then-advisor, Urmas Arumäe, acted as defense counsel in the case, prompting calls of a conflict of interest.

Late last week an commission of inquiry into Mart Järvik's actions led by Secretary of State Taimar Peterkop published its findings after 10 days of work. The commission found that Järvik had exceeded his authority, as well as made inconsistent statements on when he first became aware of Listeria bacteria traced to the M.V.Wool fish packing plant.

Following the report's publication, Mart Järvik said he had no intention of resigning, with the prime minister saying the report confirmed what he had already suspected regarding Järvik.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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