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Prosecutor, lawyers appeal Savisaar corruption ruling to Supreme Court

Harju County Court interior.
Harju County Court interior. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

State prosecutor and lawyers of those charged in the long-running Edgar Savisaar corruption case have appealed at the Supreme Court a court decision made in summer. Savisaar, a former Tallinn mayor, is no longer standing trial himself.

State Prosecutor Taavi Pern is seeking, in cassation,* the part-annulment of the second-tier Tallinn Circuit Court decision, and the referral of the matter to the first-tier Harju County Court for a new decision on one of the co-defendants, businessman Alexander Kofkin. 

Pern also wants a new circuit court hearing on real estate mogul Aivar Tuulberg, another co-defendant.

The prosecutor's office had originally charged Savisaar, co-founder of the Center Party and Tallinn mayor 2007 to 2017, of embezzling city funds for his and the Center Party's use, as well as accepting four bribes plus illegal donations to Center, and being involved in money laundering activities.

In a long-running trial which began in June 2017, Savisaar and his co-defendants – the Center Party was also charged as a legal person – pleaded not guilty to the charges, with the exception of one, former MP and environment minister Villu Reiljan, who entered into a plea deal.

Savisaar himself saw his case closed on health grounds in December 2018 after it had passed up all three levels of the Estonian court system – county, circuit and Supreme Court.

Kristi Rande, counsel for co-defendant and Center MP Kalev Kallo, is seeking the annulment and acquittal of her conviction, in cassation.

Counsel for Vello Kunman Paul Keres similarly is pursuing the revocation of his client's conviction and the enforcement of the county court's acquittal, in cassation.

Last October, all the defendants' lawyers stated the prosecutor's office charges have not been proven and their defendants have not committed any crimes.

Kallo, Tuulberg, Kofkin and Kunman also reiterated the view already expressed during the proceedings that they had not committed the acts they were charged with.

The prosecutor applied for a guilty conviction with real jail time for Kalev Kallo, Aivar Tuulberg and Alexander Kofkin, and parole for Vello Kunman. 

Court hearings facts.

  •  June 22 this year: Circuit court partly annuls previous county court decision on the Edgar Savisaar corruption case and makes new, own decision.
  • Circuit court annuls county court's decision of January 14 to acquit Vello Kunman of bribery and convicts him, via a new decision, and sentences to a €15,000-fine.
  • Circuit court convicts Kalev Kallo on making a prohibited donation to the Center Party and upholds suspended sentence of one year and six months, for aiding and abetting a bribe.
  • County court decisions on Aivar Tuulberg and Alexander Kofkin remain unchanged.
  • Proceedings against Alexander Kofkin terminated due to a "reasonable time" having passed, and he is ordered to pay €79,197 costs.
  • Vello Kunman cleared of bribery charge and ordered tp pay €39,310.57 legal costs.
  • Aivar Tuulberg acquitted of the bribery charge and ordered to pay €116,269.72 costs.
  • Court releases €80,000 cash belonging to Edgar Savisaar from seizure, to be returned to him upon the entry into force of the court judgment. Savisaar ordered to pay €3,237 costs (all the legal costs listed above are payable to the state as plaintiff – ed.).
  • In June 2019, businessman Hillar Teder making illicit donations to the Center Party in 2014. His case is closed following a prosecutor's office request, and he is ordered to pay a fine of €200,000.
  • Center Party, being charged as a legal entity, has its hearing hived off into separate proceedings following the party's desire to reach a plea deal with the prosecutor's office, which leads to €25,000 costs, to be paid to the state.
  • Tuulberg, Kofkin and Kunman had been charged with bribing Edgar Savisaar. Kalev Kallo, a former chairman of the Tallinn City Council and current MP, is charged with facilitating bribery, as is Villu Reiljan.
  • Reiljan had been required to pay €33,000 to the state in October 2017.
  • Priit Kutser, a former deputy mayor of the North Tallinn district, was also charged with embezzlement but the charges were later dropped.

*"in cassation" means a high-level court (i.e. the Supreme Court) holding a hearing without re-examining the evidence, but rather interpreting the current, relevant law.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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