Preliminary hearing in former minister embezzlement case takes place Friday
Former education minister Mailis Reps' (Center) criminal case sees its preliminary hearing on Friday. Reps stands charged with embezzlement and fraud, during her time as minister, charges she strenuously denies.
The hearing in any case is likely only to deal with formalities, as Reps has successfully applied for an extension to the deadline for pre-litigation procedures, ERR reports.
Counsel for the defendant Paul Keres says his client will certainly not be pleading guilt to the charges at Friday's hearing, to be held at the first-tier Harju County Court, adding that the prosecution has agglomerated various incidents and drawn the line of intent through all of them.
Talking to commercial radio station Raadio Kuku, Keres said: "The prosecution has tried to tack them together by saying that all these separate cases were committed with the same intent."
"It has taken a great effort to take a €60-item, and then a €70-item and then one costing €150, whereas all these costs are completely different things. They have all taken place at different times, and in different situations," Keres continued.
"For this reason, they have succeeded in prosecuting the [criminal] case, otherwise it would have constituted a misdemeanor," Keres added.
The prosecutor charged Reps with embezzlement and fraud, alleging she spent around €7,500 of ministry funds on personal use.
Keres added that the prosecutor has been biased in putting together its case.
Friday's preliminary hearing will not see pre-litigation procedure, after the defendant and her lawyer applied for an extension to the deadline for lodging the defense.
This means the pre-litigation procedure has been adjourned, and Friday's hearing will likely only see a new pre-litigation schedule set.
Mailis Reps resigned as minister in November 2020 following a report by evening paper Õhtuleht that she had used the ministry's official car for non-official purposes - principally the school run, but also on a long-distance vacation drive to Croatia. Other claims later emerged and included the hosting of a birthday party at a high-end Tallinn restaurant on the ministry's tab, and the sequestering of a ministry coffee machine.
Reps had to be stripped of her parliamentary immunity in order for the criminal case to go ahead. She is also subject to a civil case in relation to the allegations.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte