On Tuesday, the Harju County Court postponed the hearing of former Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps (Center). Due to health reasons, the trial of Reps, who stands accused of embezzlement and fraud, will resume on January 10 next year.
Reps' hearing had been scheduled to get underway on Tuesday, December 20. However, as Reps has now been issued a medical certificate covering the period between December 13-28, her trial will resume on January 10 next year, writes daily newspaper Postimees.
On Tuesday, Reps' defense lawyer Paul Keres submitted a further medical certificate on his client's behalf, which was signed by three doctors: Reet Laasik, Eda Väin and Ivo Saarma. The certificate confirmed, that Reps would be unable to attend the hearing on the dates scheduled due to medical reasons.
Further details of Reps' condition remain confidential as is customary in situations concerning health-related matters.
In early December, pediatrician Adik Levin published an article in daily newspaper Eesti Päevaleht, in which he asked Prosecutor General Andres Parmas to end Reps' trial, as she was expecting twins.
Parmas' predecessor Lavly Perling, who now leads new political party Parempoolsed, told radio show "Vikerhommik," that Reps expecting twins was no reason to halt the trial.
According to Perling, the Estonian judicial system is very considerate and humane, but this should not extend to canceling a trial, if there is a suspicion that the law has been breached.
"Of course, it's stressful to be involved in criminal proceedings," Perling said. "But we still have to continue - after all, she is there for a reason, and she brought it on herself."
In a trial, you not only have to take into account people's health, but also the fact that the rest of society wants answers regarding whether or not a person committed a crime. Society wants to see that the person who committed the crime is held responsible for it, the former prosecutor general stressed.
Reps stands accused under two sections of the penal code, in relation to embezzlement and the rest to fraud. The first charge relates to the use of a ministry car and its fuel for non-official purposes, including to complete the school run, and for hosting and organizing a birthday party, which also involved the use of ministry funds and facilities.
The second charge involved the alleged use of a ministry coffee machine, which Reps allegedly took home, travel expenses, further birthday party costs at a restaurant and expenses connected to attendance of WRC Rally Estonia, in summer 2020.
The Ministry of Education and Science has filed an additional civil action against Reps to the order of almost €120,000, of which €70,000 is for the cost of childcare services.
Editor: Michael Cole