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Prosecutor's office challenges former Tartu deputy mayor acquittal

Kajar Lember in court.
Kajar Lember in court. Source: Madis Hindre / ERR

The Southern District Prosecutor's Office has decided to challenge the decision by Tartu County Court to acquit the city's former deputy mayor Kajar Lember (SDE) of charges related to violating procedural restrictions and bribery.

According to Southern District Prosecutor's Office spokesperson Kauri Sinkevicius told ERR, the decision is being challenged in its entirety. That is, in relation to both the alleged violation of procedural restrictions and the acceptance of bribes.

Sinkevicius said, that prosecutor's office is now asking the circuit court to overturn Tartu County Court's decision and find the defendants in the case guilty of the crimes of which they are accused.

Tartu Circuit Court spokesperson Anett Kreitsman told ERR ,that the court has not yet decided whether or not to hear the appeal from the prosecutor's office.

Kajar Lember told ERR that, from his perspective, the trial had been absurd trial from the start. "I cannot believe that it is possible to be found guilty in a court in the Republic of Estonia in a case of this kind today," Lember said.

"The Estonian state has spent at least €1.5 million to prove, I can't even say what," Lember added.

Lember was acquitted by the Tartu County Court on December 14, 2022.

At that time, the court said, that after analyzing the evidence and testimonies presented in the criminal case, it found 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.

Lember also stood accused of accepting bribes in exchange for using his official position as Tartu deputy mayor. In the same episode, hairdresser Tuuli Tiro was also charged with bribery.

However, the court ruled, that Tiro had not seriously believed Lember would perform any official acts in his capacity as Tartu deputy mayor, which would benefit the interests of the housing association, in return for being given 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 said, in December last year.

"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 Lember did not accept a bribe and Tiro did not offer or pay one, both should be acquitted .

Kajar Lember is standing for election to the Riigikogu as the Social Democratic Party's frontrunner in the Jõgeva and Tartu counties electoral district.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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