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Customs board bases fine on Wikipedia entry, loses in Supreme Court

Russian Mil Mi-28 attack helicopter.
Russian Mil Mi-28 attack helicopter. Source: (Wikimedia Commons)

The Supreme Court decided in favor of Tallinn logistics company NTN EST on Tuesday and against the Tax and Customs Board in a case based on information coming from a Wikipedia article.

The dispute began in 2015, when six wooden crates arrived in Muuga Harbor from Dubai. In the crates were spare parts for helicopters destined for Russia, according to weekly Eesti Ekspress.

According to the cargo papers, the spare parts were for civilian helicopters, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ strategic trade committee found that two engines that were part of the shipment could be used for the Russian Mil Mi-28 attack helicopter as well.

In connection with Russia’s involvement in Ukraine, the European Union has banned the sale or shipment of military equipment to Russia. Based on this directive, the Tax and Customs Board (MTA) fined shipper NTN EST in the amount of €1,600.

They justified the step stating the helicopter engines had been developed specially for the Mi-28 attack helicopter. The data they referred though was taken from a Wikipedia article.

The shipper and its lawyer, Gerly Kask, successfully contested the fine after the case passed all court tiers and eventually had to be taken up by the Supreme Court.

The court found that data published in Wikipedia wasn’t sufficiently credible to justify an order of punishment, and that MTA’s decision would have required an expertise, to be based on technical literature or on similar sources that could be properly ascertained.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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