Prosecutor: Doctor attack unrelated to his work on COVID-19 advisory board

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North District Prosecutor Diana Helila on Wednesday's AK.
North District Prosecutor Diana Helila on Wednesday's AK. Source: ERR

A recent attack on a senior doctor in Tallinn which saw him showered with a a liquid thought to be urine was 'with certainty' unrelated to his position on the government's coronavirus advisory council, the prosecutor's office says.

An investigation into the assault, which took place last Wednesday evening as the doctor, Peep Talving, sat in his vehicle outside his workplace at the North Estonian Medical Center (PERH), has led to the principals suspect's detention by the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA).

North District Prosecutor Diana Helila told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) that the suspect, named in the media as Toomas Erm Wilson, has admitted to carrying out the attack and is cooperating with the PPA and prosecutor's office with a view to obtaining a sentence via plea deal.

Detention followed public appeal

Wilson, 54 and reportedly already known to the police as having criminal underworld connections, turned himself into the PPA Wednesday following a public appeal which include the release of a recent photo and security camera footage of the assailant leaving the scene at PERH.

He was the third individual detained in relation to the ongoing investigation as reported so far.

A 61-year-old male, thought to have been Wilson's accomplice in the attack, was detained for questioning yesterday. A lawyer and well-known anti-coronavirus restrictions activist Andrei Vesterinen was detained overnight from last Thursday before being released. Vesterinen says he has a cast iron alibi as to his whereabouts on Wednesday, February 3.

Prosecutor: 'I can say with certainty that attack not due to Talving's work on the research council'

Wilson did not explain his motives in last week's incident, though the prosecutor's office says whatever they were, they were unconnected with Talving's position on the scientific council.

Diana Helila told AK that: "The clear motive was not clear based on any of his statements. However, I can say with certainty that it was not because of [Talving's] work in the research council. While I will not disclose his statements in the interest of pre-trial proceedings, I am certain that there is no threat to the general public and that other people can currently feel safe."

Talving said at the time he only got a brief glimpse of his assailant, while one of his car's tires was also punctured by the attacker.

PPA: Most important goals of investigation already achieved

Rait Pikaro, head of the PPA's Northern Prefecture crime office, told ETV current affairs show "Ringvaade" Wednesday evening that the PPA has now performed the most important task in the investigation so far, i.e. removing the immediate threat to Talving and ascertained the incident was unrelated to his scientific council work.

Pikaro said: "The most important thing for us in the Peep Talving attack was to apprehend these people and make sure there was no danger to third parties. We have resolved this issue. We have also got the worst-case scenarios off the table, that is to say, was this an attack which was linked to the victim 's activities on at he scientific council or in relation to measures curbing the spread of the coronavirus."

"Based on the evidence gathered, we can say that was not the reason," Pikaro went on.

PPA spokesperson: Talving and Wilson did not know each other

Pikaro said the PPA has ruled out Talving and Wilson being acquainted with each other ahead of the attack, though added that the precise motive is not clear yet.

The initial court hearing is due to take place Thursday and which as noted is likely to see Talving's lawyers putting in a plea deal request.

Pikaro added that Wilson, who will remain in custody at least until Thursday, had expressed remorse for his actions, at least on paper.

Incident coincided with alleged stepped-up campaign against coronavirus scientific council head

Procedures are already underway against the 61-year-old apprehended earlier in the week in relation to the incident.

The attack on Talving, who is also head doctor at PERH and was unhurt in the incident, came at a time when the government's coronavirus scientific council chief, Professor Irja Lutsar, had seen numerous alleged online attacks and threats via private message. She had recently engaged in a lengthy phone conversation with Andrei Vesterinen in relation to coronavirus restrictions.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) hit out at the attacks on Lutsar, while social affairs minister Tanel Kiik (Center) pledged to step up protection for Lutsar and other members of the council.

This article was updated to include Rait Pikaro's comments on Wednesday's "Ringvaade".


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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