On Friday, the Supreme Court released convicted drug dealer Jevgeni Medunitsa from electronic tagging custody, ruling he had served sufficient time. Medutsina had been accused of organizing an international drug trade.
Medunitsa had been in custody since his arrest on December 14 2015 and went on trial on October 28, 2016.
The Supreme Court said that Medunitsa had been in custody during court proceedings for more than three-and-a-half years and, together with the time spent in pre-trial proceedings, his detention had then been extended to four-and-a-half years. "Even considering the specifics of the pending criminal case, it is a considerable period of time," said the Supreme Court.
"The criminal case has been restarted thus far, but the possible time on reaching a decision is not even approximately clear. This means that Medunitsa's detention period, which was already unreasonably long, would be extended indefinitely. Therefore, the court annuls both and makes a new regulation itself, replacing Medunitsa 's arrest with an electronic surveillance requirement," the Supreme Court stated in its order.
In March, the defendant's lawyers, Küllike Namm and Kristjan Tuul, challenged a ruling of the second-tier Tallinn Circuit Court on the detention of Medunitsa.
In March, the circuit court found that the defendants' arguments were not sufficient to annul the ruling of the first tier Harju County Court and release Medunitsa from custody under electronic surveillance.
"Although Medunitsa has been in custody for a considerable period of time, there are exceptional circumstances in the criminal case against him that justifies the continued restriction of personal freedom," the circuit court noted at that time.
The Northern District Prosecutor's Office charged Medunitsa with setting up and running an international criminal organization involved in drug trafficking.
According to the charge, the group, led by Medunitsa, allegedly smuggled large quantities of cannabis from Morocco to Spain and then to Russia, from 2012 to December 2015.
Various routes were used to smuggle the drugs to Russia, including via Estonia.
The prosecution noted that the amount of drugs transported at one time was usually in the order of a few hundred kilos, skilfully concealed inside luxury cars.
According to the charge, the gang smuggled a total of 2.3 tons of cannabis to Russia. The gang used up-scale car models - Audis, Mercedes, and BMWs - to transport the drugs.
Medunitsa and several of his alleged fellow gang members were arrested in Spain in December 2015, and extradited to Estonia in February 2017.
Editor: Katriin Eikin Sein