Entsik handing off Heldna-Vaher case after tapped as chief state prosecutor

Chief State Prosecutor Maria Entsik.
Chief State Prosecutor Maria Entsik. Source: Prosecutor's Office

Chief State Prosecutor Maria Entsik is handing off the criminal case involving Eerik Heldna, Elmar Vaher and Aivar Alavere to state prosecutors Alan Rüütel and Jürgen Hüva.

Entsik, who had been serving as lead prosecutor in the Heldna, Vaher and Alavere case, no longer has enough time for it after being appointed chief state prosecutor on the proposal of Prosecutor General Andres Parmas and taking over on November 1 as director of a department focusing on economic and corruption crime proceedings, daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) reported Sunday (link in Estonian).

Entsik confirmed that the criminal case, in which Estonian Tax and Customs Board (MTA) Customs Department ex-director Eerik Heldna, Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) ex-director general Elmar Vaher and Central Criminal Police ex-chief Aivar Alavere have all had suspicions brought against them, still looks to be headed toward charges being pressed.

"As soon as all proceedings prescribed by law are completed, including the defense having submitted their applications to the Prosecutor's Office and these applications having been resolved, we can make a procedural decision regarding how to move forward with the criminal case," she explained.

She added that both the defense and state prosecutors are currently acquainting themselves with the materials in the criminal case.

Entsik said that the lead prosecutor on the case was replaced after the court dates for the Dankse money laundering case were revealed and turned out to overlap with the period of time requiring active engagement with the Heldna-Vaher-Alavere case.

She added that it's only really appropriate to swap out a lead prosecutor in a case at the end of pretrial proceedings.

"The Prosecutor's Office also wants as a matter of principle to ensure that, whenever possible, at least two equal prosecutors are involved in substantial and large-scale litigation," the chief state prosecutor explained. "The purpose of that practice is to ensure the certain and speedy conclusion of litigation on one hand, and to support our employees in difficult and high-pressure litigation on the other."

She declined to reveal whether and what new evidence may have come up in the case, noting instead that collected evidence will be disclosed at court hearings, where it will first be presented to the court.

On October 11, the Prosecutor's Office announced that it had terminated criminal proceedings regarding three PPA officials who had had suspicions of aiding fraud brought against them this March. Proceedings have nonetheless continued regarding Heldna, Vaher and Alavere.

On March 21 this year, Eerik Heldna, director of the Customs Department of the Estonian Tax and Customs Board (MTA), and Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) Director General Elmar Vaher were detained on suspicions of fraud and aiding fraud, respectively, brought by the Estonian Internal Security Service (ISS).

According to the suspicion, Eerik Heldna was, at his own request and with the involvement of Elmar Vaher, registered as ostensibly employed in the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) in April 2019 and transferred that same day on rotation to the Military Intelligence Center of Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), where he had in fact been working for a year already.

Both Vaher and Heldna have denied any direct guilt. An investigation was also launched in connection with the fictitious employment contract into Aivar Alavere, then chief of the Central Criminal Police.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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