Former education minister Mailis Reps' (Center) preliminary hearing will take place in January. Reps stands charged with embezzlment and fraud stemming back to her term in office, while the investigation was prompted by media reports starting over a year ago.
The initial hearing is to take place at the first-tier Harju County Court on January 7 2022 and will weigh possible applications and schedule court sessions.
The charge sheet states Reps misused ministry assets worth €7,500 to cover her personal expenses.
Reps' defense counsel Paul Keres says his client will plead not guilty
Ats Kübarsepp, the Central Criminal Police office for the investigation of corruption crimes chief, says that the authority launched its proceedings based on findings published in the media.
He said: "It was determined in the course of what were initially misdemeanor proceedings that misuse of public property had been committed repeatedly and on a larger scale than initially reported."
"This means there was sufficient basis for the matter to be further investigated in criminal proceedings. We also understood the public's expectation to get answers and the investigation was conducted as quickly as possible and in the course thereof, all new circumstances and evidence discovered were thoroughly checked," Kübarsepp continued, according to BNS.
Reps allegedly instructed employees at the Ministry of Education and Research to carry out tasks relating to the day-to-day management of her six children, including the school run and using the ministry car and driver for that purpose – an expose by evening paper Õhtuleht marked the beginning of the case, while Reps resigned in November 2020.
The ex-minister, who now sits as a Riigikogu MP, has also been charged with the unlawful use of her ministry's fuel card, and of having the ministry cover expenditures relating to a birthday party – her own - held on ministry premises.
Birthday celebrations at an upscale restaurant and a long-distance trip to Croatia, using the ministry vehicle, are also among the allegations, while perhaps the most iconic facet is the alleged use of a ministry coffee machine. The coffee machine, allegedly at Reps home now, is made by Jura – which in Estonian translates roughly to nonsense or indeed something stronger than that.
Reps was education minister overall for nearly seven years, over three stints between 2002 and her resignation last November.
Reps was also lead negotiator on behalf of the Center Party during talks with the Reform Party, ahead of the current coalition of the two parties entering office in January.
As a sitting MP, her parliamentary immunity needed to be waived prior to standing trial. This happened in October.
Editor: Andrew Whyte