A second prosecutor plans to step away from the protracted Port of Tallinn (Tallinna Sadam) corruption case, investigative weekly Eesti Ekspress reports.
The Port of Tallinn criminal case began in 2015 and first reached the courts in 2019.
At the start of September, the Prosecutor's Office finished presenting its evidence, nearly four years after the case began at the first-tier Harju County Court.
Evidence from the defense will next be presented.
The Port of Tallinn is part-state owned having been floated in 2018. Its purview includes the ports of Muuga, to the East of Tallinn, and Paldiski, to the West, though Kopli shipyard in North Tallinn no longer belongs to the Port of Tallinn, having been privatized in 2022.
Prosecutor Kristo Adosson announced Tuesday he is applying for another public service post, and this process means clashes with the dates of two hearings at Harju County Court, on October 17 and on October 31.
The vast quantity of information and the complexity of the criminal case has led to two prosecutors attending hearings simultaneously. However, last month, state prosecutor Denis Tšasovskih abruptly resigned.
Judge presiding Kristina Väliste has attempted to expedite the hearings through this fall and struggled to find dates which suit all; last week, the Prosecutor's Office decided to task Kadri Väling with the case, replacing Tšasovskih; Adosson said Tuesday that the new prosecutor will not arrive until the end of November, meaning he will be working alone until that time.
Prosecutor General Andres Parmas in an interview following Tšasovskih's resignation pledged that "the prosecutor's office will not in any way obstruct" the Port of Tallinn case hearings.
Proceedings are in their final phase and will be followed by a court announcement of when the verdict will be read – though hearings are currently scheduled to run to January 2025.
Harju County Court Viivika Siplane says predicting when a resolution will be reached is not viable, as this does not hinge solely on the court, but also on other factors, adding "Until the court has adjourned to the conference room to prepare its decision, forecasting that time is not viable either."
ERR's Estonian news reported last week that sworn advocate Paul Keres, counsel for one of the defendants, had called for the case to be wrapped up on the grounds of statute of limitations – though this appeal, made in August to the Supreme Court, was not taken into consideration.
Acting for Ain Kaljurand, a defendant, Keres was joined by other lawyers involved in the case in calling for the termination.
Viivika Siplane told ERR at the time that the requests had not disrupted or delayed court proceedings; the only break had occurred up to that point with a change in defense lawyers and from September 4, the sessions had continued to schedule, she said.
The long-running case had already essentially had to go back to square one in April of this year when a lay judge involved in the case had had to step down due to illness; the office of lay judge in more general terms also came under scrutiny at this time.
In summer 2015, the Internal Security Service (ISS) placed Kaljurand and Allan Kiil under arrest on suspicion of multi-million-euro bribery activities as board members of the Port of Tallinn and in respect of contracts involving shipyards in Poland and Turkey, over around a ten-year period.
Kiil became unwell in October 2020 after which the case against him was dropped; he passed away in June last year.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Karin Koppel
Source: Eesti Ekspress