Prosecutor wants Savisaar co-defendant prison time, acquittals overturn

Center Party MP Kalev Kallo.
Center Party MP Kalev Kallo. Source: ERR

Tallinn District Court is to discuss the case of Center Party MP Kalev Kallo, a defendant in the long-running Edgar Savisaar corruption case which saw several co-defendants tried, including the Center Party itself, with none of them being found guilty at the county court level, save for Kallo.

The hearing takes place on May 18, with the prosecutor seeking conviction in the case of Kallo and overturning of the county court decisions for those acquitted, BNS reports.

State prosecutor seeking convictions

Chief State Prosecutor Taavi Pern also wants a conviction in the case of Kallo, on the charge of making a prohibited donation to the Center Party, with a one year and six month jail sentence, of which three months would not be conditional (i.e. suspended-ed.), BNS reports.

The probation period for the remainder of the prison term would be one year and six months. 

Pern furthermore is pursuing a conviction for businessman Vello Kunman for bribe giving, and is seeking conditional jail sentence of 12 months.

In the case of businessman Aivar Tuulberg, the prosecutor is seeking a two-year prison term for bribe giving, of which three months would not be conditional and the remainder conditional, BNS reports.

Pern also wants also wants €80,000 in cash seized from Savisaar confiscated.

Court materials concerning businessman Alexander Kofkin should be sent back to the first-tier (county) court for a new decision, BNS reports.

The prosecutor also wants the annulment of the first-tier court decision on costs of the criminal proceedings, with the procedure expenses ordered to be paid by the accused. 

Kallo only defendant in case to so far face real jail time

Of those defendants remaining on trial in the Savisaar corruption case, Harju County Court only convicted Center Party veteran Kalev Kallo in mid-January, giving him a conditional sentence of one year and six months in prison with a probation period of two years.

Kallo had been found guilty of aiding the giving and accepting of a bribe and mediating bribes. He was acquitted regarding the episode concerning an illegal donation.

The court found that Kallo's guilt of corruption has been proven, meaning he must serve the aforementioned term, while businessmen Aivar Tuulberg and Vello Kunman were acquitted.

However, the county court decision was contested in the district court by Kallo's defense attorney Kristi Rande, who wants her client to be acquitted on all charges, and the state to foot the bill regarding procedural expenses.

The county court terminated proceedings on businessman Alexander Kofkin, as the limitation period had been exceeded.

Savisaar was released from trial on corruption charges on the grounds of bad health at the end of 2018.

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

The prosecutor general's office also accused businessmen Aivar Tuulberg, Alexander Kofkin and Vello Kunman of giving kick-backs.

Defense attorneys for all the persons standing trial affirmed during litigation, 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 being accused of.

Attorneys for Tuulberg and Kunman want the court to dismiss the prosecutor's appeal.

Each of the accused, Kallo, Tuulberg, Kofkin and Kunman also used their right of final rebuttal and reiterated that they have not committed the acts they are accused of

Former politician Villu Reiljan also stood accused of arranging a bribe for Savisaar.

Charge and acquittal details

Vello Kunman was acquitted of bribe-giving charges, with the state ordered to cover the legal costs of €39,310.57.

Aivar Tuulberg was also cleared of bribe-giving. The state was ordered to cover legal costs of €116,269.72.

The court decided to terminate proceedings against Alexander Kofkin, as the limitation period had been exceeded. The state was ordered to cover legal costs of €79,197.

The court released €80,000 seized from Edgar Savisaar, to be returned to him upon the entry into force of the court judgment.

The court also ordered the state to pay Savisaar legal costs of €3,237.

On June 18 2019, 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, June 18, the court separated the materials of the criminal case of the Center Party from the so-called Savisaar criminal case into separate proceedings, as the Center Party wished to enter into a plea del with the Office of the Prosecutor General. The party was handed a fine of €25,000. 

Former City of Tallinn official Priit Kutser had also stood trial for aiding embezzlement, but proceedings were concluded for reasons of expediency.

The corruption hearing case began at Harju County Court on June 12, 2017, where the defendants said that they understood the charges but do not plead guilty.

Villu Reiljan, former minister of environment, pleaded guilty, with the court opting to hive off charges related to him from the rest of the case and to carry out a plea bargain, which required him to pay the state €33,000.

The Estonian court system is organized in three tiers, with county courts followed by circuit courts and then the Supreme Court.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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