The state is funding Prosecutor General Andres Parmas' candidacy to become a judge with the International Criminal Court (ICC) to the tune of €25,000.
Parmas was named publicly as a candidate for the ICC back in March; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is involved in handling his campaign.
He is already a member of the ICC's trust fund board.
A ministry spokesperson told ERR that that campaign is still ongoing, with a budget of €25,000 – which mainly goes on foreign missions and campaign events to showcase the candidate to other countries, as well as campaign materials.
Parmas says he only takes part meetings related to his candidacy - submitted by the foreign minister (at the time Urmas Reinsalu) after receiving approval from the government, on December 1 last year.
The President of the Supreme Court, the Chancellor of Justice and the State Secretary were asked for their opinion.
This had followed a competitive process announced by the foreign ministry, which Parmas emerged from as chosen candidate.
This is not to say that the going has been wholly smooth.
Parmas has faced criticism over recent cases where the office he heads up has not put in a particularly stellar performance, most notably the long-running, and monumentally complicated, Port of Tallinn corruption case – which has been held up due to the departure of several prosecutors, from the case, or from their post, during that time.
Parmas said there has been no break in the Port of Tallinn proceedings as a result of this, however.
"All the hearings have taken place as planned in the past few months, and the presentation of evidence has gone more smoothly than originally planned. The judicial investigation will be coming to an end in the coming weeks, and at the current pace of work, it will fit into the court's already set hearing days without any problems."
Parmas says that, on the other hand, his candidacy for the ICC post has not affected his work or that of the prosecutor's office.
"Drawing parallels between the criminal proceedings of the Port of Tallinn, the management of the prosecutor's office and my candidacy is arbitary. Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but there is undoubtedly a range of views on this matter," he said.
Parmas said that he had been able to perform relevant tasks even when abroad, trips he has taken, to destinations including the U.S. and the Netherlands, in relation to the ICC candidacy.
Parmas remains in office as state prosecutor to February 2025, ie. a five.year term, but if he does get the ICC role, he would have to leave the Estonian prosecutor's office early; the ICC judicial elections will be held from December 4 to December 14 in New York City, where six new judges will be elected and when Parmas will discover whether he is one of them.
These will take there oath of office in March 2024, though, Parmas said, the actual time of starting work as an ICC judge may follow somewhat later, though before the end of his February 2025 end-of-term with the domestic prosecutor's office.
If elected, Parmas' term would run 2024-2032.
Based in The Hague, the ICC is the only permanent international court with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has brought the spotlight on such organizations and their effectiveness of dealing with war crimes and other human rights violations.
Estonia has been an ICC member since 1998.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also set up a dedicated website aimed at showcasing Parmas' candidacy. His campaign pledges include making the conflict reparations system more effective, and to help speed up ICC proceedings.
As a small country, the success of Estonian candidates reaching top international bodies is often seen as a key way to boost the country's profile.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming