Portal: Former minister accused of domestic violence damages talks stall

Marti Kuusik.
Marti Kuusik. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

A court claim for compensation by former IT and foreign trade minister Marti Kuusik (EKRE) has stalled so far, since the parties have been attempting to reach an out-of-court settlement for three months.

The original hearing at Tallinn Administrative Court was set to see testimonies from three leading government members, including Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) but this was rejected on the grounds the testimonies would be practically identical.

A preliminary hearing into the claim, for €31,458, which Kuusik is asking for after being forced to resign late in April 2019 after a day-and-a-half in office, followed media reports at the time that he had been a perpetrator of domestic violence; Kuusik said he was entitled to six months' compensation, but this was rejected since he had left of his own volition, news portal Delfi reports (link in Estonian).

Kuusik said that his resignation was not an admission of guilt, but rather done to for the government's interests' sake, as well as to clear his own name and protect his family, and thus constitutes being forced out of office, with Kuusik turning to the administrative court in June 2019.

While preliminary sessions weere heard in October, this has now ground to a halt, Delfi wrote, although under the rules 20 percent of government ministers were required to testify in court, with Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE) and finance minister Martin Helme (EKRE) being Kuusik's preferred choice here (there are 15 government ministers, incluing the prime minister), but law firm Triipan, representing the government office, said that since discussions had taken place between the three ministers, there was no need for all to be heard, the court found, since they were likely to duplicate each others' testimonies.

Martin Helme was ultimately chosen by Kuusik to be the one to testify, but the day before that sitting was due in February, Kuusik and his lawyer Küllike Namm requested an out-of-court compromise with the government office for reasons not given, though the latter was still of the view that he should not received six months' salary.

Current situation

Triipan told Delfi in mid-April that the government office certainly wanted to get to a resolution soon, though added on Tuesday that communication with Kuusik's representatives had been sluggish and that the ball was in the latter's court.

Küllike Namm, however, said that this was surprising, adding that Kuusik, whom Delfi could not reach for comment, had not given her the authority to speak publicly on the matter.

While no deadline had been set for these negotiations, Delfi writes, Triipan said it hoped a conclusion on whether the Tallinn Administrative Court – itself not aware of where the talks are likely to lead – would be going ahead with proceedings or not would be reached by summer.

Kuusik, who was later replaced by Kert Kingo, received €374.50 for the day and a half he worked in the post, plus an extra €75.90 representation fee, Delfi says.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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