Harju County Court, which on Tuesday was set to examine the final pieces of evidence presented by the prosecution in the trial of Tallinn ex-mayor and former longtime Center Party chairman Edgar Savisaar after an almost two-month break, was unable to resume the hearing due to Savisaar's illness.
Oliver Nääs, Savisaar's lawyer, told the court that his client had been taken to the hospital on Tuesday morning.
"As regards the next steps, I will definitely ask the medical doctor for an illness certificate and will keep the parties to the proceeding informed," Nääs said. "Hence I request postponing the hearing."
The court then announced that the trial would resume on Jan. 23.
The county court was scheduled to hear six witnesses on Tuesday, including two from Spain via video link, as well as further examine written evidence. This would have exhausted the prosecution's evidence, and the trial would have resumed in January with the examination of evidence prresented by the defense.
The trial was initially supposed to resume in mid-November, following a month-long break, but was delayed until Dec. 12 after the judge hearing the case required a medical examination.
Trial began in June
The trial of Savisaar and a number of businessmen began in Harju County Court on June 12, when the defendents confirmed that they understood the charges against them but did not plead guilty. Only Villu Reiljan pleaded guilty, and the court decided to separate materials concerning him from the larger case for the purposes of a plea deal.
Witnesses who have testified in the trial thus far include businessmen Paavo Pettai and Tarvo Teder, MP Siret Kotka-Repinski, acting mayor of Tallinn Taavi Aas, former Minister of the Interior Ain Seppik, Tallinn city secretary Toomas Sepp and Center Party Secretary General Mihhail Korb. The court has likewise heard testimony from a number of other witnesses, including 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 also testified. Kutser hoped that his case would be closed for reasons of expediency, but the Office of the Prosecutor General did not agree. Reiljan has since been found guilty of arranging a bribe and sentenced to a pecuniary punishment.
The court has also been able to listen to records of audio surveillance carried out on the defendants as well as review written evidence.
The county court likewise said it did not agree to the applications of some of the defense attorneys to close the defendants' cases for reasons of expediency.
"Ending proceedings under this motive would only be in question as a 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 volume of the case," Harju County Court said. "Currently, the decision to end proceedings for reasons of expediency is premature."
The court has also investigated written evidence regarding Savisaar's financial affairs, disclosing that Savisaar was interested in owning cash and allowed others to pay for his everyday domestic expenses.
The condition of Savisaar's health has worsened on several occasions during the course of trial; on two occasions he has been taken to the hospital for examination.
The Office of the Prosecutor General has brought charges against Savisaar for accepting bribes, money laundering, embezzlement, and accepting prohibited donations for the Center Party. The same charges have been lodged against Alexander Kofkin, Vello Kunman, Villu Reiljan, Hillar Teder, Kalev Kallo, Aivar Tuulberg, Priit Kutser as well as the Center Party itself.
Editor: Aili Vahtla