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Savisaar always wanted to decide everything himself, says Sarapuu

Arvo Sarapuu, Edgar Savisaar and Jaanus Mutli on an ad promoting a volunteer work day at Hiiu Stadium in Tallinn ahead of the 2013 local elections.
Arvo Sarapuu, Edgar Savisaar and Jaanus Mutli on an ad promoting a volunteer work day at Hiiu Stadium in Tallinn ahead of the 2013 local elections. Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

According to pre-trial statements provided by former Tallinn deputy mayor Arvo Sarapuu concerning the corruption case of suspended Tallinn mayor and former longtime Center Party chairman Edgar Savisaar, the former mayor always liked to decide everything himself in the city government.

As Sarapuu had fallen seriously ill and was unable to physically appear in court as a result on Thursday, the Prosecutor's Office released statements given by Sarapuu during the pre-trial procedure. In these statements, Sarapuu recalled that the city had allocated money for the Hiiu Stadium information campaign.

According to Sarapuu, the organization of the campaign was decided at a discussion held in Savisaar's office in 2013, where participants also included then-deputy mayor Jaanus Mutli and advertising expert Raimond Kaljulaid, among others.

Sarapuu recalled that it was said that an awesome adverisement should be made which would attract attention, adding that it was evident that there was a trusting relationship between Savisaar and Kaljulaid. Sarapuu also noted that Savisaar liked to always decide everything by himself in the city government.

The former deputy mayor said that the campaign was organized immediately prior to the elections as the goal was to invite people to do community work. "The time period for running the ads was likely set by Kaljulaid and the advertising agency," Sarapuu noted, adding that the opening of public establishments is often planned to take place ahead of elections as this would presumably help boost election results.

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

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