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Former prosecutor general: Pregnancy should not preclude court trial

Mailis Reps entering a courtroom.
Mailis Reps entering a courtroom. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Former education minister Mailis Reps' (Center) court hearings must not be halted simply due to the fact that she is expecting twins or that she already has several children, former prosecutor general Lavly Perling says.

Appearing on Vikerraadio show "Vikerhommik" Wednesday morning, Perling said: "I think I have some empathy, though I have to admit that when this whole thing came to light, I was amazed at an attitude in which we have a mother and a woman, so we have to treat them differently.

"I'm sorry, but I hope that women – be they mothers or not – would not want different treatment when a theft had been committed. Whether you are a mother or a woman, if you have committed this act, you have to take responsibility, especially if you have served as a high-ranking public official," Perling went on.

An opinion piece by a doctor, Adik Levin, which appeared in daily Eesti Päevaleht (link in Estonian) Monday called for Prosecutor General Andres Parmas – Perlin's successor – to wind up Reps' trial, which relates to alleged embezzlement of ministry funds during her time as education minister.

Levin's reasoning was that Reps, already a mother to six children, is expecting twins.

Perling disagreed that this was an argument for halting the trial. "Listen, this is certainly a fully adult woman, who herself has created the situation where she has to stand before the court while pregnant."

The Estonian judicial system is very conducive and humane, Perling went on, but this should not preclude a trial when there are grounds for suspicion of a violation of the law. 

Lavly Perling. Source: ERR

"Participating in criminal proceedings is stressful, of course it is. However, we must then note, she is there for a reason, which she herself caused. Children are all well and good, but we are talking about a person who at the level of state management who must have a sense of responsibility," Perling said.

In the course of a trial, in addition to individual's health situation, taking into account the fact that the rest of society wants to obtain answers on whether a person committed or was involved in a crime, and that they want to see that the person who committed the crime is also responsible for it, must also be taken into account, Perling added.

Perling is now leader of Parempoolsed, a political party running at the March 5, 2023 general election. She was prosecutor general 2014 to 2019.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mait Ots

Source: Vikerhommik

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