Justice minister investigating case delays at Harju County Court
Justice minister Raivo Aeg (Isamaa) announced the start of supervision proceedings at Harju County Court, saying that while the number of court cases and proceedings is falling, the time taken to process cases is increasing. The delays may sometimes led to cases being terminated.
However, chair of Harju County Court Meelis Eerik says that Aeg has created a false impression of the court's work.
"The reason for initiating unprecedented supervision cannot therefore be correct or realistic," Eerik told online portal Delfi, according to ERR.
"Of course, there are different issues relating to court proceedings, and these are often out of the court's reach. But criticizing the judges and court work at Harju County Court is unfair to both judges and the court," Eerik added.
Aeg says that Harju County Court, which is the largest court in Estonia's three-tier court system, has been getting negative public attention over protracted cases recently.
Aeg gave the concrete examples of major money laundering and tax cases which were terminated due to delay in proceedings and which Harju County Court Judge Anne Rebane said in an article in investiative weekly Eesti Ekspress that the last 33 months of the pre-trial investigation are estimated as: "Inactive, because the indictment does not show significant evidence or acts which were collected or carried out after 2013"
Aeg noted other examples such as the Port of Tallinn case, as well asnoting that a significant proportion of judges are coming up to retrement age, which again threatens to leave cases terminated, due to overdue proceedings.
The county court is the lowest tier in the Estonian legal system, followed by the circuit court, and the supreme court.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte