The Riigikogu voted unanimously Tuesday to lift parliamentary immunity in respect of Center Party MP Mailis Reps, ahead of a court case relating to the alleged misuse of education ministry funds.
Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise called for the measure, which is prerequisite to Reps being defendant in a court case concerning alleged misuse of ministry funds during her time as education minister. Reps herself did not oppose the move.
Fifty-six MPs voted in favor of lifting Reps' parliamentary immunity, with no votes against.
The justice chancellor had followed the prosecutor's office request to lift the MP's immunity, reading it formally before the Riigikogu ahead of Tuesday's vote.
Reps told ETV in mid-September that the measure was needed in order to proceed with the court case.
Reps is subject to a criminal investigation, while her former ministry has filed a civil suit for an undisclosed sum, BNS reports.
State prosecutor: Former minister faces embezzlement, fraud charges
State prosecutor Denis Tšasovskih told ERR Tuesday afternoon that the court indictment should be filed in November.
He said: "he next logical step for us would be to draft an indictment, and everything is pointing towards us being able to draft that indictment and pass it on to the court, and to Mailis Reps and her lawyers, in November of this year."
As to the nature of the charges, he said there were two crimes in view.
"We can say that Mailis Reps is under suspicion of committing two crimes: One is embezzlement, the other, fraudulent conduct," he continued, using the legally defined understanding of both terms ("omastamine" and "kelmus", in Estonian – ed.).
"The crimes concern the actions of Mailis Reps from the time when she was the Minister of Education and Research, and had used the property entrusted to her to her advantage, thus creating a false impression in order to obtain property benefits, which also entailed damage he continued.
Beyond that, Tšasovskih said there was nothing surprising in the content of the charges, but was unable to lay these out in full, adding that the charges, if they resulted in a conviction, could be penalized by up to five years imprisonment.
Ülle Madise told the Riigikogu Tuesday that the property entrusted to Reps came to €3,579.06, while in creating a misconception so as to gain an advantage, Reps had caused damage to the state worth €6,155.15.
Media reports in fall 2020 alleged that Reps had used the ministry's official car and its driver for non-official use. Reps resigned in November, returning to the Riigikogu as a Center MP.
Later media reports alleged she had misappropriated ministry funds to pay for her birthday party at an upscale restaurant, and had also taken home a ministry Jura-branded coffee machine, for personal use. "Jura" in Estonian means nonsense, or rigmarole, or can be translated along stronger lines also.
This article was updated to include comment to ERR from state prosecutor Denis Tšasovskih and Ülle Madise's statement about damage to the state.
Editor: Andrew Whyte