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Court orders psychiatric evaluation of Kaur Kender

Kaur Kender (right) and his lawyer, Paul Keres
Kaur Kender (right) and his lawyer, Paul Keres Source: (Siim Lõvi /ERR)

The Harju County court granted prosecutor Lea Pähkel’s request to have writer Kaur Kender evaluated for potential need of psychiatric treatment. Kender is currently on trial and charged with the creation and distribution of child pornography. Subject of the trial is a short story by the author.

Pähkel’s request followed a statement by Kender that he suffered from “rages”. According to the court, among other points the evaluation is supposed to bring out whether or not Kender needs psychiatric treatment, and if he can be made criminally responsible at all.

The coming assessment of the writer is the latest development in a case that has been hotly debated in and outside the courtroom. Kender’s lawyer, Paul Keres, had requested to deny the prosecutor’s application, as such an assessment was both an attack on his client’s human dignity and irrelevant for the court proceedings and a fair trial.

Kunman disagreed with the defense. “To clarify the facts, expertise is needed, and an expert’s opinion important to solving the case,” the judge found.

Psychiatrist Katrin Eino and psychologist Tiina Kompus were given the task to perform the assessment.

According to the court decision the experts have to investigate what Kender’s mental state was at the time he allegedly committed the crime, whether he was able to comprehend the nature of the crime he allegedly committed, whether there were mental or personality disorders or instabilities that limited his ability to judge his own actions.

The experts are also to clarify whether Kender has cognitive deficits that limit his ability to judge and direct his own actions, whether or not he can be made criminally responsible, and if he needs psychiatric treatment.

Kender is accused of having produced child pornography. The subject of the trial is his short story “Untitled 12”, which he published in 2014 and which was subsequently banned.

Kender’s short story about a pedophile featured what has been called “graphic descriptions” of the sexual abuse of children. The investigation of the writer has led to a fierce debate of what should and shouldn’t be allowed in writing, and whether or not the legal view of what constitutes child pornography can be extended to include the literary domain.

Editor: Editor: Dario Cavegn

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