A Tallinn deputy mayor accused of giving false statements in relation to a criminal investigation denies the charges. The investigation concerns an illegal donation made to the Center Party last year of €50,000, which the party later returned.
The deputy mayor, Eha Võrk, says she will not be resigning, and will also be running in the October local elections.
Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, Võrk, one of eight Tallinn deputy mayors, said: "If I am charged, I intend to prove my innocence in court.
"Last week, the Central Criminal Police charged me with knowingly given false statements in an investigation into a donation made to the Center Party," she continued.
"I didn't plead guilty, because I didn't knowingly give any false statements," Võrk added.
"I have cooperated fully with the law enforcement agencies and I want to continue to do so so that the investigation can be completed as soon as possible," Võrk continued.
"In view of all this, and also the fact that the suspicion is not related to my professional activities, I do not intend to resign as deputy mayor," she went on.
Võrk denied a charge that she must have had inside information on the illicit donation, adding that one media report had appeared on it ahead of when she had become aware of the situation.
She said: "I am charged with having knowledge of the donation to the party, not purely from the press, as I had told the investigator, since, according to the police, the issue was not covered in the press until June 5."
"However, on May 30, the day before the [police] phone call [to Võrk], Eesti Ekspress published a quite thorough article, while Postimees had already written a story on the same topic as early as May 17," Võrk said.
Võrk added she had no motive to provide untrue statements as she had no involvement in the donation on any level.
Why her statements on whether or not she had discussed the donation with a member of the party's women's council six months after the donation was made was an issue, Võrk said was not clear to her.
Võrk had been escorted from her office by Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) last week, Delfi reported Tuesday.
The investigation is related to the Jana-Helen Juhaste prohibited donation case, where €50,000, allegedly the result of proceeds from Juhaste's ex-partner's business activities, was given to Center and was found to be illegal.
Center returned the donation, allegedly made by Juhaste as an act of spite against her former partner, after it was publicly reported in the media as having been illicit.
The Corruption Crime Bureau of the Central Criminal Police is handling the case, ERR reports.
Võrk's office was not searched when she was taken away for interview, a police spokesperson said Wednesday.
Võrk also said at the press conference that she simply could not recall a phone call allegedly made at the end of May 2020, eight months after that same phone call, i.e. when she was first contacted by the police on the issue.
"I make dozens of phone calls every day and I may not remember everything several months later," she said.
"The charge was that the Center Party women's group member had discussed the donation made by Jana-Helen Juhaste," Võrk said.
Kõlvart: Võrk should remain in office
Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) is sticking by Võrk.
"I assume that Eha is still the deputy mayor and he will also remain so," Kõlvart, also present at Wednesday's press conference, said.
The authorities investigating can go about their work calmly, the mayor went on, adding that on getting acquainted with the facts of the charges, could not see any wrongdoing on the part of Võrk or of the city government.
Editor: Andrew Whyte