Criminal charges against Clyde Kull will likely be dropped

Clyde Kulli court hearing.
Clyde Kulli court hearing. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Wednesday, the State Prosecutor's Office submitted a request with the Harju County Court to terminate the criminal proceedings against Clyde Kull, one of Estonia's longest-serving diplomats, based on the principle of opportunity. On March 21, the court will rule on the motion.

If the court grants the motion, the accused will have to pay €7,500 in damages and an obligation of €25,000 to the state, according to the state prosecutor's office.

The allegation is that Kull claimed as representation costs personal expenses made in connection with activities involving himself, members of his family, and friends or acquaintances. According to the charges, Kull has claimed expenses of about €7,500 as representation costs, for which he had no right or basis. 

Kull admitted to the acts during a hearing in Harju County Court on Wednesday.

State Prosecutor Laura Aiaotsa said that it is the responsibility of law enforcement to ensure that crime does not pay, "The purpose of criminal procedures is to guarantee that the perpetrator of a crime pays compensation and bears responsibility for his or her acts. The state's response must be designed to keep the offender and others law-abiding in the future. This does not always have to be a criminal sanction; depending on the circumstances some other solution may be more effective," Aiaots said.

A few weeks ago, Clyde Kull pleaded not guilty at the preliminary hearing of the Harju County Court and was prepared to prove his case along with his lawyer Aivar Pilv during the 18 public hearings lasting until the summer, but on Wednesday there was an unexpected turn of events right at the beginning of the hearing: lawyer Pilv proposed to the court to terminate judicial proceedings based on the principle of opportunity, daily Eesti Ekspress reported.

Implementing the principle of opportunity means terminating the criminal proceedings through a reasonable agreement between the accused and the prosecutor's office.

This is neither a ruling of acquittal nor of conviction. The main advantage of opportunity is that the matter is resolved fast and the person's criminal record remains clean. In most cases, using the principle of opportunity to end a proceeding is accompanied with one or more obligations.

In order to apply the principle of opportunity, there must be no public interest in pursuing the case and the person's guilt must be negligible.

"As Clyde Kull admitted at the hearing to committing the acts listed as the charges and also apologized for misusing taxpayer funds, and he is willing to compensate for the damage caused by the crime and, in addition, to pay an obligation of €25,000 to the state, the prosecutor's office believes that this will ensure both sufficient impact on the accused and the preventative purpose of justice," the state prosecutor explained.

The court decides whether or not the request will be granted. If the court denies the motion, the proceeding will continue. If the court grants the request, the legal proceedings will continue only if any of the obligations remain unfulfilled.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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