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Sarapuu, Raimond Kaljulaid to testify in Savisaar trial

Tallinn deputy mayor Arvo Sarapuu (Center) checking out one of the new garbage trucks procured by Tallinn Waste Centre Ltd.
Tallinn deputy mayor Arvo Sarapuu (Center) checking out one of the new garbage trucks procured by Tallinn Waste Centre Ltd. Source: (Sander Ilvest/Postimees/Scanpix)

Former Tallinn deputy mayor Arvo Sarapuu and Põhja-Tallinn city district elder Raimond Kaljulaid are to testify in the trial of suspended Tallinn mayor and former longtime Center Party chairman Edgar Savisaar in Harju County Court on Wednesday.

The court is currently handling episodes connected to so-called information campaigns financed by the Tallinn city government, which according to the charges constitutes prohibited election advertisements and led to charges of embezzlement.

In addition to Sarapuu and Kaljulaid, Tallinn city government public relations manager Ain Saarna is also to testify on Wednesday.

Kutser fined for failure to appear in court

The court fined former Tallinn city official Priit Kutser €800 after he was unable to produce for the court a doctor's certificate on Tuesday regarding his absence from a hearing on Sept. 20 and subsequent hearings scheduled for last week.

The court was to discuss offense episodes which concern Kutser on Sept. 27-28 as well, but had to cancel the hearings due to Kutser's alleged illness. Kutser's failure to appear in court caused a more than week-long interruption in the trial.

The fine must be paid by no later than the end of the year.

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

Source: BNS

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