State balances books on Savisaar trial proceedings payments

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Former Tallinn mayor Edgar Savisaar, with cat.
Former Tallinn mayor Edgar Savisaar, with cat. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The state has been ordered to pay a little under €240,000 to lawyers involved in court proceedings surrounding the long-running Edgar Savisaar corruption trial. Savisaar co-founded the Center Party and was Tallinn mayor 2007-2015. The state itself is also due around €250,000 from various defendants in the complex trial, however.

Savisaar himself was released from proceedings in June 2018 on health grounds.

Judgments from the first- (county) and second-tier (circuit) courts mean the state must compensate several defendants for their legal costs, and pay for the costs of two expert examinations totalling €238,716.92, BNS reports.

However, the state will more than balance its book, since it is due €200,000 from one of the co-defendants, businessman Hillar Teder, in connection with the termination of his case on the grounds of expediency.

In addition, the state is claiming €33,000 from co-defendant Villu Reiljan, €15,000 from co-defendant Vello Kunman, along with €1,752 in compensation levies from two individuals convicted in the case and a further €350 from former city official Priit Kutser, which comes to a total of €250,102, BNS reports.

This puts the state coffers in the black to the tune of around €11,385, when all payments are settled.

Sentences in the case were finalized Monday after the Supreme Court dismissed all appeals filed in connection with the verdicts.

Savisaar has seized €80,000 returned to him

Following Monday's judgment, Edgar Savisaar is also to have €80,000 seized in cash during a search which took place as part of the investigation returned to him.

€186,000 in cash along with an additional 300,000 Estonian Kroons (EEK) – Estonia's currency until January 2011 and worth about €19,174 – was seized on September 22 2015, at Savisaar's Lääne-Viru County home, with a ruling by Harju County Court in May 2016 making the seizure permanent.

The money was held based on an alleged €80,000-bribe construction magnate Aivar Tuulberg was charged with having handed to Savisaar in order to win a tender to develop the Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel).

Lawyers acting for Savisaar, Oliver Nääs and Greta Oltjer-Timberg, were able to get €106,000 and the 300,000 EEK returned, with €80,000 of the money remaining seized.

Monday's decision ruled that since the bribe-giving was not proven in Tuulberg's case, and the latter had been acquitted, the funds should be returned to the former mayor.

Savisaar trial details

The Office of the Prosecutor General had charged several business owners of bribe giving or taking, in connection with Savisaar's time as Tallinn mayor, with former Center MP Kalev Kallo charged with aiding in corruption crimes.

The first of several verdicts came on January 14 at Harju County court, a judgment changed in party by Tallinn Circuit Court on June 22; this was appealed at the Supreme Court by both Chief State Prosecutor Taavi Pern as well as attorneys for Kallo and Kunman, where the appeals were rejected on Monday.

Kalev Kallo was handed a suspended sentence of one year and six months in prison with a probation period of two years after being found guilty of mediating a bribe, aiding the giving and accepting of a bribe, and the illegal financing of a political party.

The circuit court annulled the county court's January decision to acquit businessman Vello Kunman of bribery, convicting him in a new decision and fining him €15,000.

Businessman Aivar Tuulberg was acquitted on charges of repeated bribe-giving.

Businessman Alexander Kofkin's proceedings were terminated by the court, as the limitation period had been exceeded.

Hillar Teder, yet another businessman, admitted to Harju County Court in June 2019 that he had covertly financed the Center Party in 2014, and was released from trial on the grounds of expediency, with a penalty payment of €200,000 due to state coffers from him as noted above.

On the same date, June 18, the county court hived off the materials of the Center Party's aspects of the criminal from the remainder of the Savisaar case, into separate proceedings, due to a Center Party desire to enter a plea deal with the Office of the Prosecutor General.

As a result, Center was fined €25,000.

Former City of Tallinn official Priit Kutser was also on trial for aiding embezzlement, but his proceedings were wound up for reasons of expediency. Kutser was ordered to pay the state €350.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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