Court to announce decision on Savisaar corruption case on Tuesday

Edgar Savisaar.
Edgar Savisaar. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Harju County Court is to rule on the long-running Edgar Savisaar corruption case on Tuesday, Baltic News Service reports.

Savisaar is a former Tallinn mayor and former chair and co-founder of the Center Party.

Savisaar, 69, stood charged with various corruption activities including bribe-taking, along with seeral co-defendants including MP Kalev Kallo and businessmen Aivar Tuulberg, Alexander Kofkin and Vello Kunman.

Counsel for all those standing trial affirmed during the litigation process, which ended in October of last year, that charges by the prosecutor's office have not been proven and the defendants have not committed the crimes they are accused of.

Each of the accused have also used their right of final rebuttal and reiterate their innocence.

Of those remaining on trial, Kallo, Tuulberg and Kofkin are likely to be meted out real jail time, BNS reports, while Kunman should be handed a conditional sentence.

Prosecutor's office sought jail time in some co-defendants' cases

During the litigation process, the prosecutor sought one year and six months' imprisonment with three months of real jail time and three years on probation for Kallo, and two years' imprisonment with three months of actual jail time and two years on probation for Kofkin and Tuulberg.

The prosecutor applied for a conditional sentence of one year with two years on probation for Kunman.

On June 18 of last year, businessman Hillar Teder admitted in Harju County Court that he had covertly financed the Center Party in 2014, and was released from trial on the grounds of expediency. The court acceded to an application by the prosecutor's office, terminated proceedings against Teder on the grounds of expediency, and ordered Teder to make a penalty payment of €200,000 to the state.

On the same day, the court separated the materials of the criminal case concerning the Center Party, which was also a co-defendant, into separate proceedings, as the Center Party desired to enter a compromise procedure with the Office of the Prosecutor General, which led to a financial penalty of €25,000. A much larger sum the party had originally been hit with, about ten times that amount, was suspended. 

Savisaar was suspended from office in autumn 2015, and was later freed from trial on corruption charges due to his bad health; the on-off trial whose preliminary proceedings started in early 2017, had been dogged by his health issues causing a halt in proceedings. The hearings had passed up all three levels of Estonia's court system – the county court, the circuit court, and the Supreme Court.

The Office of the Prosecutor General had brought charges against Savisaar for accepting bribes, money laundering, embezzlement on a large scale, and accepting prohibited donation on behalf of the Center Party. 

Aivar Tuulberg, Alexander Kofkin and Vello Kunman are also accused of giving bribes to Savisaar.

Kalev Kallo, former chairman of the Tallinn city council, is accused of facilitiating the giving and accepting of a bribe. Former politician Villu Reiljan was also accused of arranging a bribe for Savisaar. 

Former City of Tallinn official Priit Kutser stood on trial charged with aiding embezzlement activities, but proceedings were concluded for reasons of expediency. 

The Savisaar corruption case hearings began in Harju County Court on June 12, 2017, where the defendants said that they understood the charges but did not plead guilty. 

Villu Reiljan, former minister of environment, pleaded guilty and the court decided to hive off the charges related to him from the main case to carry out a compromise procedure, which resulted in him having to pay the state €33,000. 

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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