Ex-prosecutor general: Port of Tallinn saga reveals shortcomings of the system

Lavly Perling.
Lavly Perling. Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

Former Prosecutor General and current leader of the Parempoolsed political party Lavly Perling says the drawing out of a corruption case relating to the state-owned Port of Tallinn (Tallinna Sadam) authority is demonstration both of a lack of proper management of the prosecutor's office, and of shortcomings in Estonia's penal code.

The delays have been caused by the prosecutor's office itself, Perling noted in a short interview with "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) which follows in its entirety.

Can it be said that the prolonging of the Port of Tallinn case is without precedent?

I'm sorry, but when looking at this saga, you would have to concede that the prosecutor's office is not being managed. This case of high-level corruption has taken on a course of its own, due to the circumstances enacted by the state prosecutor This is a serious matter, as much public trust in the legal system in our state hinges on the processing of corruption cases.

Is three months a long enough period for a prosecutor to familiarize themselves with a case?

What has transpired already speaks to the fact that we are not just talking about a crisis regarding one case, but a wider leadership crisis. This somewhat reflects what has been happening in state management, where things have become dispersed.  Our criminal procedures need to be looked at in the bigger picture.

There are three prerequisites in the fight against corruption: There must be the political will in place, an effective legal system, and motivated fighters. This tale suggests that none of that is in place. But then think about what the Ministry of Justice is currently dealing with: Administrative fines, hate speech laws, the whistle-blower law, all instead of tidying up the sharpest implement in the toolbox in the fight against corruption: the Penal Code.  This needs to be simple, clear and up-to-date.

What will happen next, with this sage and more widely?

Going forward, the entire procedural chain must pull itself together and prove to the people of Estonia that justice does exist. If a crime has been committed, people get convicted, it is up to the court to make a decision. The most important thing is that people see that this [case] is transparent and that it has a beginning and an end.

Is it your belief that this matter will reach a verdict once things resume, in three months' time?

You would have to ask the prosecutor that question. I truly believe they're looking at [a time frame] of three months and are still willing to go ahead, in the coming weeks.

Lavly Perling was talking to Priit Kuusk.

Earlier this week, State Prosecutor Kadri Väling, who was appointed to replace Denis Tšasovskih in the long-running Port of Tallinn case, after he unexpectedly stepped down from the role, has now announced that she will not have sufficient time to familiarize herself with the case and therefore also wishes to be withdrawn from the trial.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mari Peegel

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera.'

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