The first hearing into Center MP and former education minister Mailis Reps' alleged embezzlement began at the first-tier Harju County Court on Monday. Reps pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Reps is charged under two sections of the penal code, referring to misappropriation and fraud.
In the first category, Reps is charged with using a ministry car and its fuel car for non-official purposes, the use of ministry staff members for child-minding – Reps has six children – and of organizing a birthday party using ministry funds and on ministry property.
The fraud charge, meaning in legal terms causing property damage to another individual in a way which gives a false impression, revolves around the use of a ministry coffee machine, which the former minister allegedly took home, costs incurred in child travel expenses, more birthday party costs at a restaurant, and accommodation during the inaugural WRC Rally Estonia in 2020.
Reps resigned in late 2020 after the initial allegations came to light in a report by evening paper Õhtuleht.
In addition to the criminal case, which comprises damaged of €7,500, Reps also faces a civil suit by her former employers, to the tune of €118,819.77.
The prosecutor plans to question 30 witnesses through the course of the trial, including the former minister's driver, assistants and birthday guests. Reps' defense counsel, Paul Keres, says he plans to call nearly 60 people to the witness stand, including many ministers from the previous Center/EKRE/Isamaa administration, of which Reps was a member.
A final decision by Harju County Court is not expected until spring next year.
Reps was education minister over three terms, 2002 to 2003, 2005 to 2007, and most recently 2016 to 2020.
Editor: Andrew Whyte