Lawyer: I have done nothing wrong in relation to Mihkelson case

Maria Mägi-Rohtmets.
Maria Mägi-Rohtmets. Source: ERR

A lawyer representing the father of children who have been engulfed in media allegations of inappropriate photos has denied any wrongdoing, though adds that it would be preferable if the Estonian Bar Association, Eesti Advokatuur, would formulate an opinion in proceedings its honorable court has commenced in relation to her actions, whereby the extent to which closed-door legal hearings can be commented on publicly.

Speaking to ERR, Maria Mägi-Rohtmets, sworn advocate (vandeadvokaat) and counsel for the father at the center of a custody battle involving Tuuli Mihkelson, the wife of Reform MP Marko Mihkelson, said: "The Bar Association could not have failed to initiate such a procedure. If the Bar Association had not initiated it by now, I would have had to ask them to do so by my own initiative. However, this week has been a very busy time, as you will know."

"Behind the situation that has arisen lies a societal expectation of an assessment coming on whether, how much and in what cases any part of legal proceedings declared closed-doors can be made public at all, or when the circumstances related to the closed case can be published. I also find this good to know. I personally think that I have behaved completely correctly, and I have to act in my client's interests," Mägi-Rohtmets went on.

She rejects accusations of wrong-doing. "I keep finding this," she said, adding that for the future it would be good to know where the limits of subsequent discourse about a closed-doors procedure lie.

Daily Postimees, which broke the allegations of improper photos taken of a child, allegedly by the MP, who heads up the Riigikogu's foreign affairs committee, says it had contacted Mägi-Rohtmets client, ie. the father of the children embroiled in the situation, and said client directed the journalits to thir lawyer, Mägi-Rohtmets says.

She answered Postimees' questions, she says, adding that the client has never asked her to act in a wary which would be contrary to the law or ethics.

Mägi-Rohtmets is currently reviewing public materials related to the allegations and removing inappropriate items at the request of her client, she adds. "We are first dealing with submitting a request to remove certain information, which in our opinion is not appropriate, and is not in the interests of children."

"Next we must also consider whether there is any reason to check that no incorrect factual statements have been published during the great momentum and enthusiasm, and which would also be carrying an inappropriate value assessment. Of course, we are working towards that," she said.

"We are not going to do a Robert Sarv, but we will have to analyze it, that much is clear," she continued, referencing a lawyer who has acted in high-profile media cases in the past.

the reaction to the revelations in the media came as a surprise to both her and her client, Mägi-Rohtmets continued. She said: "We were absolutely not prepared for the fact that circumstances and information, through which it is possible to identify minors, that was frantically thrown into the media. We simply did not consider that."

"Public interest cannot be inherent in the activities of one single family. Public interest can only lie in the activities of a high-ranking public figure, but in this case, that was exited altogether followed by a delving into the family's affairs," Mägi-Rohtmets said.

"This was done in a way where children might also be identified according to the information relating to their parents. This is inappropriate. I would say in relation to this that our media should learn to deal with painful issues in society in such a way that the matter can be talked about, yet would not harm any people in whom there can be no inherent public interest."

"The media should of course have concentrated primarily on Marko Mihkelson as a high-ranking public figure, and nothing else. However, now it has became something completely different. This is, of course, very unfortunate," the lawyer continued.

On Friday , the Bar Association announced that its Honorable Court had started proceedings regarding the actions of Maria Mägi-Rohtmets relating to the Marko Mihkelson allegations.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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