Court rejects Illar Lemetti preliminary complaint and lawsuit

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

Tallinn Administrative Court dismissed former rural affairs ministry Secretary General Illar Lemetti's preliminary application for judicial review, which he preemptively filed with the court before the government released him from his post at the beginning of the week.

A court spokesperson told ERR Friday that Lemetti filed the complaint on Nov. 21, in respect of a memo submitted by former rural affairs minister Mart Järvik (EKRE) the day before. Lemetti also filed a preliminary lawsuit aimed at preventing the government from releasing him, ERR reports.

Lemetti faced calls from Järvik to step down on the grounds of non-cooperation after he made public claims that Järvik had used his position to act in favor of former advisor Urmas Arumäe in an EU subsidy fraud case where Arumäe was defense counsel and a rural affairs ministry body, the Agricultural Registers and Information Board  (PRIA), was the plaintiff.

Lemetti and Järvik were both released from their posts on Monday by the government.

Tallinn Administrative Court dismissed the application for interim relief and dismissed the appeal, on Thursday, ERR reports. 

The court found there was no need for interim relief in connection with the applicant's release.

The court also explained to the applicant, i.e. Lemetti, the possibility of amending the complaint and appealing against Government Order No. 290 of Nov. 25: "Release of the Secretary of the Ministry of Rural Affair," (i.e. the precept that relieved Lemetti of his duties-ed.).

The court's ruling can be appealed within 15 days.

"Lemetti appealed to the administrative court with a request to prohibit dismissal, the admissibility of which is at least questionable in the light of public service regulation," said Kristjan Siigur, Tallinn Adminstrative Court chair.

"However, it is obvious that in a situation where a person has been dismissed from his post, a prohibition claim (even if such a claim were admissible) cannot protect their rights. Thus, in cases where a dismissal has already taken place, it is possible for the court to propose the applicant change their claim, with a possible claim being to declare the dismissal unlawful and to seek financial compensation arising from that," Siigur continued.

The day Lemetti filed his complaint and lawsuit, he was invited to attend a cabinet meeting, but declined, on the grounds that since he had been given three days to comment on release documents from Nov. 20-22, he had not fully formulated his position.

Last Friday, Nov. 22, Lemetti sent a letter to Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) calling his dismissal on the grounds of non-cooperation wrong, adding that the real reason Järvik wanted him out was because he had been looking at potential corruption issues.

The government as noted opted to release Lemetti on Nov. 25; Lemetti told ERR on Nov. 26 he would go to court over the decision, but also noted he was not likely to be reinstated in the post.

A precedent in the case from 2010-2011 saw a Centre Party official, Värner Lootsman, released from his position as Harju County Governor in October 2009, at the request of then Minister of Regional Affairs Siim-Valmar Kiisler.

Lootsmann applied for a declaration that the dismissal order was unlawful and for an order for his absence due to forced service.

In October 2010, Tallinn Administrative Court found that the dismissal of Lootsmann was tenable and dismissed his complaint, with Tallinn Circuit Court dismissing Lootsmann's appeal in July 2011.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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