Testifying in the trial of suspended Tallinn mayor and former Center Party chairman Edgar Savisaar at Harju County Court on Wednesday, former Põhja-Tallinn district elder Karin Tammemägi said that her then-deputy Priit Kutser claimed to have coordinated the city's 2013 information campaign regarding the construction of a sports complex with Savisaar.
Tammemägi recalled that Priit Kutser was her deputy in 2013, and that spring he also proposed putting up an ad regarding the construction of a swimming pool and sports complex in the area.
"I agreed to it," she confirmed, adding that her clear suggestion was that the ad focus primarily on the message about the development of the sports center. While the requirements were fulfilled in the preliminary design, Tammemägi said that the final product, which prominently featured only Kutser, was a surprise to her.
"Kutser said that he had received Edgar Savisaar's approval for the design of the ad, which is why Kutser did not even ask for my approval on the final version," Tammemägi said. She noted that she had also discussed Kutser's behavior with Savisaar, who conveyed the message that cooperation with Kutser must continue. According to Tammemägi, Kutser had been appointed as deputy district elder by the mayor and in reality did not answer to the district elder.
"Knowing that cooperation with Kutser must continue and everything had been discussed with the mayor, I had no opportunity for consideration when approving the advertising invoices," Tammemägi said.
"I later reassessed my positions and came to the conclusion that Kutser's ad was not permissible in its final form," she continued, adding that her assessment was based on ethical and moral norms.
The former city district elder testified regarding a Tallinn city information campaign regarding a sports complex in Põhja-Tallinn ordered by Kutser, which according to charges constituted hidden election advertising. As the campaign was paid for using city budgetary funds, Kutser now stands accused of embezzlement.
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.
Editor: Aili Vahtla