Former Tartu deputy mayor Kajar Lember has been acquitted by Tartu County Court of charges related to violating procedural restrictions and bribery.
The Prosecutor's Office had accused Lember of knowingly committing a large-scale violation of the Anti-corruption Act's limits of conduct in 2015-16 while serving as a member of the Tartu city government and deputy mayor.
The charges related to the Roosi 83 property in Tartu, in which Lember had a personal interest and wanted to build an amusement park.
Tartu County Court announced on Wednesday, that after analyzing the evidence and testimonies presented in the criminal case, it had concluded that Lember's decision-making at Tartu city government's meetings in relation to the Roosi 83 property were not in violation of the restrictions on conduct outlined in the Anti-corruption Act.
According to the court, none of Lember's private interests could be said to have influenced the awarding of the contracts. Consequently, Lember's conduct in relation to the awarding of the contract was judged not to be in violation of any restrictions and he was therefore acquitted of the charges.
The Prosecutor's Office had also accused Lember of accepting bribes in exchange for using his official position as deputy mayor. In the same episode, hairdresser Tuuli Tiro was also charged with bribery.
However, in the court's view, Tiro did not seriously think or expect Lember would perform any official acts in his capacity as deputy mayor of Tartu, which would benefit the interests of the housing association, in return for a haircut.
"Although Tuuli Tiro stood firmly for the interests of the housing association and did everything in her power to try influence Lember to allocate city money to the association for the renovation of the staircase, Tiro did not agree to provide Lember with a free annual haircut, but only one free haircut on December 15 2015," the court noted.
"In light of the remarkably small financial value of that single haircut, Tiro also did not, in the court's view, seriously believe that the haircut would or could influence Lember to pursue the stairway issue."
The court concluded that as a bribe was neither accepted by Lember nor offered or given by Tiro, both should be acquitted.
As a result of the acquittal, the Tartu County Court ordered the State to pay legal fees of €2,682 to Tuuli Tiro, and €23,570.63 to Kajar Lember.
The parties involved now have 15 days in which to lodge a formal appeal against the decision.
Editor: Michael Cole