Estonian Minister of Education and Research Kristina Kallas (Eesti 200) told ERR that she has not been involved in the Mailis Reps' case. Kallas added that no political decisions will be made during the case, in which the education ministry is demanding almost €190,000 from Reps.
According to Kallas, as a minister, she is being kept up-to-date with developments in the Reps case, though has not been personally involved.
"As Minister of Education, I am of course aware of the matter, and both officials and lawyers keep me regularly informed. However, I have said that we will not make any political decisions in the context of this case. This lawsuit was filed before my time as minister and therefore the people who are dealing with this lawsuit are the ones who put it together, predominantly our lawyer," Kallas said.
"When it comes to this matter, I am simply a person, who is informed [about it]. I am not the decision-maker," the minister added.
Asked if she had communicated with Reps, Kallas said that Reps had written to her. "To which I responded to Mailis, that I am not involved with this issue and so, there is no point in discussing things related to this subject with me," Kallas said.
On Tuesday, Reps told ERR that she had reached an agreement with the Prosecutor's Office to bring an end the criminal case against her. However, one of the conditions of that agreement was that an agreement is also reached with the Ministry of Education and Research regarding the case. The ministry, however, has so far shown no interest in such an agreement.
"During the hearing, it was made very clear, through the legal representative of the Ministry of Education and Research, Marko Kairjaku, that there was no interest in holding a meeting. I can't explain this in any way. Whether it is a political decision to not negotiate the civil action, or if there is some (financial) interest for the taxpayer in continuing with these hearings, despite the fact that the State Prosecutor has made such a proposal," said Reps.
Kairjak : Reps did not show sincere desire to compensate state for damages
In a written comment, Marko Kairjak, the lawyer representing the Ministry of Education and Science in the case, said that although Reps and her defense lawyers came to court on Tuesday with a proposal to find grounds to dismiss the case, the accused did come with a clear position to show a sincere desire to compensate the state for the damages caused.
"Now, we were still looking for ways to move forward with a criminal case involving a claim for the damages caused to the state. /.../ We can now confirm that the position of the ministry is that the state, as the injured party, is prepared to agree to the closure of the case for reasons of expediency if Mailis Reps fully accepts the state's claim for damages, both in writing and verbal, and will also pay the state interest as well as the legal costs incurred," Kairjak said.
The ministry's claim for damages amounts to €119,000. According to Reps, €70,000 of this relates to compensation for a car used during her time as minister.
Kairjak said, there has been a procedural change and that Reps understands and acknowledges that the amount which has been appropriated from the state has to be returned and any dispute over the damages be resolved.
"The ministry has also expressed its willingness to reschedule both the basic amount and the interest on the basis of a payment schedule. This is provided that Mailis Reps provides sufficient security for the payment. This form of proposal has been put to Mailis Reps' lawyers and the ministry is awaiting a proposal regarding a possible schedule, so that the ministry can decide whether the length of the proposed schedule is in the best interests of the state," he said.
According to Kairjak, it is not in the state's interest to begin negotiating with Reps over the amount involved and therefore there is no point holding meetings between the ministry and Reps.
"As it is in the interest of the state to get back all the money that was wrongfully acquired, the purpose of a meeting between Mailis Reps and her defense lawyers and the Ministry of Education would be to start negotiations over the amount. However, the ministry does not consider this to be necessary. A proposal has been made to Mailis Reps and the state is now waiting for her response. If she does not agree to compensate [the state] for the damages, the ministry will continue to discuss the matter in court in November according to the regular procedure," said Kairjak.
Editor: Michael Cole