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Center Party MP expelled from Parliament following guilty verdict by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court ruled today that Center Party MPs Priit Toobal and Lauri Laasi are guilty of instigating unauthorized surveillance. The court also convicted the Center Party and Toobal, its secretary general, of forgery. Whereas Toobal resigned from the Parliament on his own accord on Wednesday, Laasi will be expelled immediately.

The Supreme Court found it was adequately proven in the two lower tiers of the Estonian court system that Toobal and Laasi incited Ivar Onksion to seize the opportunity to illegally access the inbox of another person, in order to systematically collect information from the e-mails.

On the two MPs' request, Onksion printed out 455 pages of e-mails, forwarding the prints, and in one case a scan, to Toobal and Laasi.

As a result, the Supreme Court did not overturn the previous rulings by Harju County Court and Tallinn District Court pertaining to instigating unauthorized surveillance. It did, however, find that what the men did is not at the same time commit a violation of confidentiality of messages – a claim made by the prosecution, county and district courts.

According to the penal code, violation of confidentiality of messages only takes place when a message communicated by a letter or other means is disclosed to a third party at the time of the communication. Onksion, however, was accessing and recording messages that had already reached their recipients.

Sentences not overturned

In October 2014, Harju County Court gave Toobal a one-year suspended sentence with three years probation, and Laasi a nine-month suspended sentence with three years probation. The sentences were upheld in both the district and the supreme court.

The Center Party will also still have to pay a 10,000 euro fine for letting Toobal forge several income declarations to hide illegal cash donations.

Unemployment awaits

According to the law, an MP who has convicted by the Supreme Court will lose his seat in the Parliament. While Toobal resigned himself ahead of the final verdict, Laasi refused to follow his lead and will now be expelled as a result. He will be replaced by Oudekki Loone.

A Parliament representative told ERR that the law will not stop both men from running again in the next election.

Editor: M. Oll

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