Kohver to be sent back to Moscow

Eston Kohver on trial in Pskov. Source: (ERR)

The closed court hearing over Estonian security official Eston Kohver continued today at the Pskov regional court. In a strange twist, Kohver would be sent back to Moscow, where he had been held in imprisonment since September last year.

Kohver's Russian-appointed lawyer Yevgeni Aksyonov said that “extra court proceedings” will be conducted in the Russian capital, but the nature of these is not yet disclosed. Aksyonov also said that Kohver's defense will appeal to minimum sentence, which would be 10 years.

The spokeswoman of Pskov court did not either confirm or deny that the Estonian agent will be sent back to Moscow. In either way, the trial is due to continue in August.

Kohver is accused by Russians in smuggling, espionage, and illegal border crossing. Last Tuesday, the prosecution also came up with a new charge – illegal arms bearing, which could in theory add 3 years to the sentence. The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) had previously reported that at the time of Kohver's detention, he had a handgun, 5,000 rubles in cash, special audio recording equipment and other “spyware”.

Kohver was kidnapped from the Estonian-Russian border by Russian special forces on September 5 last year and held at the notorious Lefortovo prison in Moscow since. Estonian authorities have always maintained that Kohver was in the line of duty and collecting information on cross-border corruption within the framework of an information collection plan in the vicinity of the Estonian-Russian border, when he was abducted. Estonia has also insisted that Kohver's abduction violates international law.

According to Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, Russia has been violating international law for nearly nine months by having abducted and by illegally detaining Eston Kohver. "The illegal detention and holding of apparent court proceedings of Eston Kohver, who was abducted from Estonian territory by the FSB, have not had any connection to a fair court proceeding from the very start. Estonian authorities are doing everything in their power to have Eston Kohver released so that he can return home,” the minister stressed.

Foreign Minister Pentus-Rosimannus confirmed that Estonia is keeping the issue high on its agenda both internationally, as well as in bilateral relations, until he can return home to his family.

Editor: S. Tambur

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