Belgian court raises Estonian EU official's sentence for rape

European Union flag.
European Union flag. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

A Belgian court has increased a sentence for a senior EU official from Estonia found guilty of raping a junior colleague at work to six years in jail, lawyers said Friday.

The ruling issued in September toughened a four-year term handed out in 2019 -- but the defendant remains free pending a final appeal, two lawyers connected to the case told AFP.

Estonian Margus Rahuoja, a director in the European Commission's Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport, was found guilty of raping his female colleague at a party on commission premises in 2015.

The official, 54, insisted that the victim had given her consent, but two sets of judges have dismissed his defense.

Cedric Vergauwen, a lawyer for the victim, said the Brussels court decided in September to increase the sentence after the appeal due to aggravating circumstances and the attitude of the defendant.

"He persisted in his denials, always speaking of a consensual relationship," said the lawyer.

However, the defendant remains at liberty after lodging a further appeal. Belgium's highest court is expected to make a ruling no sooner than next year, lawyers for both sides said.

Belgium's La Libre newspaper, which first reported the increased sentence, said that Rahuoja has kept his salary of over €14,000 a month pending a final judgment, despite being formally suspended from work.

Rahuoja is still listed as a "principal advisor" at the transport directorate-general in the EU's "who is who" directory.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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