Wednesday's hearing in the trial of suspended Tallinn mayor and former longtime Center Party chairman Edgar Savisaar was canceled due to the illness of Priit Kutser, a former Tallinn official also accused in the case.
"He still went to school yesterday, but it seemed as though he was falling ill and he took some medication — but Kutser on Wednesday morning said that he had fallen ill and was unable to come to court," the defense said, adding that Kutser has also notified his family doctor of the illness and will likely be able to produce a doctor's note.
Parties to the proceedings agreed that the advertisement videos and the associated written evidence that were due to be looked at on Wednesday will be reviewed next Tuesday afternoon, by which time Kutser will hopefully have recovered from his illness. No additional hearings will take place in the meantime.
Harju County Court was due to review advertisements which Tallinn city government had funded in 2013 as the city's regular information campaigns, but which, according to charges, constitute illegal election advertisements. Along with the videos, the court was also scheduled to review written evidence with the statements of advertising experts.
Charges against Savisaar
The Office of the Prosecutor General has charged Savisaar in using Tallinn city budgetary funds for the benefit of the Center Party and himself, i.e. embezzlement on a large-scale basis, by an official and by a group, as well as in four cases of accepting bribes, money laundering and the acceptance of prohibited large-scale donations to the Center Party. The Center Party has also been charged as a legal entity.
Charged with bribing Savisaar are businessmen Aivar Tuulberg, Alexander Kofkin, Hillar Teder and Vello Kunman. Tallinn City Council chairman Kalev Kallo has been charged with assisting in the making and accepting of bribes; former politician Villu Reiljan is charged with arranging a bribe of Savisaar. Põhja-Tallinn deputy city district elder Priit Kutser has also had to stand trial.
Hearings began in the case on June 12, when the defendants stated that they understood the charges but did not plead guilty.
Businessmen Paavo Pettai and Tarvo Teder as well as MP Siret Kotka-Repinski and acting mayor of Tallinn Taavi Aas have already testified as witnesses in the trial. The court has also been able to hear several subordinates of businessman Alexander Kofkin, employees of Hillar Teder's companies as well as city officials.
Of the defendants, Reiljan and former Tallinn official Priit Kutser have given their testimonies. The latter hoped that his case would be closed for reasons of expediency, but the Office of the Prosecutor General did not agree with that.
On Aug. 9, Harju County Court separated materials pertaining to Reiljan from the criminal case in order to pursue a plea deal with the businessman.
Court: Closing case would be premature
The court has also been able to listen to records of audio surveillance carried out on the defendants and review written evidence. The court said it did not agree to the appeals of some defenders to close the defendants' cases for reasons of expediency.
"Ending proceedings under that motive would only be in question as last resort and the court believes that there is currently no reason to employ such a last resort, first and foremost because the court currently lacks a comprehensive overview of the scope of the case," Harju County Court said. "Currently, the decision to end proceedings for reasons of expediency would be premature."
The court has also investigated written evidence about Savisaar's financial affairs, disclosing that Savisaar was interested in owning cash and allowed others to pay for his everyday domestic expenses.
During the trial, the condition of Savisaar's health has worsened on several occasions, and the suspended Tallinn mayor has been taken to the hospital for evaluation on two such occasions.
Editor: Aili Vahtla