All Defendants in Land Swap Case Acquitted ({{commentsTotal}})

Villu Reiljan, the former Environment Minister convicted of bribery, was acquitted this time around.
Villu Reiljan, the former Environment Minister convicted of bribery, was acquitted this time around. Source: Siim Lõvi/Delfi

All of the politicians in the long-running land swap case have been acquitted of charges of receiving kickbacks from businessmen looking to trade rural plots for urban lots.

The Harju County Court said the actions of former environment minister Villu Reiljan, former Land Board director Kalev Kangur and former Agriculture Minister Ester Tuiksoo were legal.

According to the Public Prosecutor's accusation, the trio executed 13 transactions involving rural land under nature conservation protection that the businessmen traded for high-value urban lots worth close to 16 million euros.

Both the politicians and the businessmen pled innocent in the trial, which began back on November 12, 2009.

Reiljan, who had been convicted previously of bribery, would have faced the prospect of six months of real jail time had he been convicted this time around.

Besides the ex-ministers and Kangur, the other acquitted defendants included the business people who allegedly benefited from the land swap: Merko construction company owner Toomas Annus, a former member of IRL's Tartu district Tarmo Pedjasaar, head of the company TSM Einar Vettus and Saarte Investeeringud director Tullio Liblik.

UPDATE: Harju County Court also ordered the state to pay court costs amounting to 1.3 million euros. The prosecutor has said it will appeal to district court, which it has 15 days to do. 


Kristopher Rikken



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