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Court sentences Paulus to 7 years for leading criminal organization

Assar Paulus in court, August 2016.
Assar Paulus in court, August 2016. Source: (Hanna Samoson/ERR)

On Wednesday, Harju County Court sentenced Assar Paulus to seven years in prison under a plea bargain, likewise endorsing punishments for 11 other individuals as well as two businesses for offenses related to the criminal group's activity.

The court found Paulus guilty of the forming and leading of a criminal organization, counterfeiting of a document as well as the use of a counterfeited document and sent him to prison for seven years, a punishment agreed upon in plea bargain negotations with Prosecutor Andres Ulviste. Under the same plea deal, a 20,000-euro deposit made by Paulus to secure the seizure of assets was confiscated as well.

The accused parties to agree to the plea deal included 11 individuals — Assar Paulus, Taago Vool, Jaanus Kivimaa, Ragnar Toom, German Svetšnikov, Erik Meier, Virgo Raudsepp, Gennadi Starodubtsev, Sivart Saarmann, Ats Pärnaste and Runno Kristjuhan — as well as both legal entities accused in the case.

Barbarossa Invest was fined 10,000 euros on suspended terms with a three-year probation. Pärnaste was sentenced to four years and six months, Vool to four years and three months, and Kivimaa to three years in prison, the portion of which not yet served by the respective defendants is conditional with a probation period of three years.

Capital Inkasso was fined 30,000 euros on suspended terms with a three-year probation. Svetšnikov was sentenced to three years and nine months, Kristjuhan to three years conditionally with a three-year probation and Raudsepp to ten years and six month in prison, the last of which included a punishment for an earlier offense.

Saarmann was sentenced to three years, Meier to three years and nine months and Starodubtsev three years and nine months in prison. Toom was handed a suspended sentence of three months in prison with one year of probation.

The punishments also entail the confiscation of several cars, jewelry, a coin collection, weapons, a collections of badges and other items from the defendants.

On June 10, 2015, Harju County Court began handling a large-scale case known in the media as the "Assar Paulus case" after the alleged head of what prosecutors claimed was an organized crime group.

In the case, three men, including Paulus, stand accused of heading a criminal organization, and 18 men and one woman of belonging to a criminal organization. Altogether 26 people and two companies have been charged in relation to the case.

According to the charges, Paulus, now 53, headed a criminal group beginning in early 2006. The group engaged in drug crimes, extortion as well as economic crimes. According to the charge sheet, it was Paulus who gave commands in the criminal group for organizing and committing crimes as well as distributing monetary gains.

State prosecutor Kati Reitsak has previously said that it was a very extensive and persistent criminal group.

Two companies are were accused of belonging to a criminal group — OÜ Capital Inkasso and OÜ Barbarossa Invest.

Charges include human trafficking, extortion, money laundering, unlawful handling of firearms, forging of documents, tax evasion and giving false testimonies.

Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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