State prosecutor appeals on Savisaar defendants decision due in June

State Prosecutor Taavi Pern.
State Prosecutor Taavi Pern. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Tallinn Circuit Court has examined appeals in the corruption case related to former Tallinn mayor Edgar Savisaar, under which the state prosecutor is seeking the conviction of the persons acquitted by the first tier county court, and real jail time for Center MP Kalev Kallo and businessman Aivar Tuulberg.

Harju County Court handed Kallo a suspended sentence of one year and six months in prison, with a probation period of two years, in mid-January, after finding Kallo guilty of facilitating and mediating in bribe giving and taking, though Kallo was acquitted on a charge  regarding an illegal donation.

In the appeal, Chief State Prosecutor Taavi Pern wants Kallo to be convicted for making a prohibited donation to the Center Party, and sentenced to jail for one year and six months, of which three months would not be conditional, in other words three months' actual jail time. The probation period for the remainder of the prison term would be one year and six months. 

Pern also wants businessman Vello Kunman convicted of bribe giving, and handed a conditional jail sentence of 12 months, BNS reports.

The prosecutor is seeking a two-year prison term for bribe giving in the acase of construction businessman Aivar Tuulberg, again with three months' actual jail time.

The prosecutor wants €80,000 in seized from Savisaar to be permanently confiscated.

The first tier court's decision should be annulled regarding costs of the criminal proceeding and the procedure expenses ordered to be paid by the accused, the state prosecutor says.

Materials concerning businessman Alexander Kofkin should be sent back to the first tier court for a new decision to be made, Pern adds.

The county court decision was contested in the [second tier] circuit court by Kallo's defense attorney Kristi Rande in addition, though in a slightly different direction – Rande wants Kallo to be acquitted on all charges and the state to foot the procedural expenses.

The attorneys for Tuulberg and Kunman have already asked the court to dismiss the prosecutor's appeal.

Of defendants remaining on trial in the long-running corruption case dubbed the Savisaar case and hived off into various hearings due to its complexity, the Tallinn-based Harju County Court convicted only Kalev Kallo, early on this year.

The court found that Kallo's guilt of corruption was proven, meaning he must serve a conditional sentence of one year and six months, while businessmen Aivar Tuulberg and Vello Kunman were acquitted. Businessman Alexander Kofkin's proceedings were terminated on a technicality - the limitation period had been exceeded, BNS reports.

As stated the circuit court will make its decision on the state prosecutor's requests on June 22.

Case details

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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