Judge rules former Tallinn deputy mayor phone tap is inadmissible evidence

Eha Võrk.
Eha Võrk. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

A judge has ruled inadmissible the major evidence in the trial of a former Tallinn deputy mayor, investigative weekly Eesti Ekspress reports. The evidence consisted of a wire-tapped phone call, allegedly containing a conversation about a separate case.

Harju County Court judge Anne Rebane ruled that an intercepted phone call made by the former deputy mayor, Eha Võrk was inadmissible as main evidence, Eesti Ekspress reports (link in Estonian).

Chief Public Prosecutor Taavi Pern had suggested to Judge Rebase that the transcript of the intercepted speech could be included as evidence if classified as "another document", the paper reports, noting that prosecuting Rebane, who stands charged with knowingly giving false testimony in relation to a donation to the Center Party later adjudged as constituting an illegal donation, would not be viable without the phone intercept evidence.

After a period of reflection, Rebane ruled that the evidence was indeed not admissible in court, Eesti Ekspress says.

Decense counsel Oliver Nääs said the intercept, of a call between Võrk and Marina Riisalu on May 31 2020, was "clearly inadmissible evidence." Riisalu joined the Center Party at the end of 2021, the party reports (link in Estonian).

Nääs noted that the intercepted call related to another investigation, namely that of the Porto Franco real estate case and concerning businessman Hillar Teder; such evidence may be used in a separate criminal case only if it proves a sufficiently serious criminal offense, Eesti Ekspress reports.

In the case of false testimony, an intercepted phone call may not be permitted as evidence.

The illicit donation refers to €50,000 given to the Center Party last year by Jana-Helen Juhaste which was later ruled to be illicit; Center returned the funds, which were allegedly the proceeds of Juhaste's ex-partner's business dealings, following that ruling.

Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) officials escorted Võrk from her Tallinn city government office last September, in relation to the case.

Võrk stands charged with given false statements to the PPA.

A subsequent motion of no-confidence at the city council chambers failed t pass.

The Porto Franco case concerned an investigation of alleged corruption regarding the real estate project in Tallinn's harbor district which was linked to the Center Party. News of the investigation led to the resignation of Jüri Ratas (Center) as prime minister in January 2021, and the collapse of the Center/EKRE/Isamaa coalition.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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