The health assessment of former Mayor of Tallinn Edgar Savisaar has now been completed and is due to reach Harju County court some time this week. The assessment, which was ordered by the courts earlier in the year and has been carried out by the Estonian Forensic Science Institute (EKEI), will determine whether Mr. Savisaar, 67, is fit to stand trial on charges of corruption, nearly a year after the trial started.
The court will decide on 5 June, based on the findings of the assessment, how to proceed with the trial.
At the same time the defendant will have the chance to review the results of the expert opinion before that date. Mr Savisaar himself has told ERR that he does not know the results of the assessment at present, though his lawyer most probably does.
Mr. Savisaar's health was assessed by a seven-member committee EKEI following various incidents which have dogged the hearing since it began in June last year. Intitially it was recommended that Mr. Savisaar attend hearings for stretches no longer than an hour in length, after which a half-hour break would be required.
Nevertheless proceedings were halted multiple times through the second half of 2017 due to the health issues of the principal defendant and this was followed by Mr. Savisaar's admission to hospital in January 2018 after which the assessment enquiry was ordered.
Despite Mr. Savisaar's being well enough to appear at a Tallinn City Council meeting in March, his own doctor, Peep Põdder, has doubted the fitness of the defendant to stand trial, for health reasons, echoing statements the doctor had previously made. Savisaar had already had to have his right leg amputated above the knee in March 2015 as a result of a streptococcal infection following an overseas visit.
The former Mayor stands accused by the Office of the Prosecutor General of using the Tallinn city budget resources to his own and his party's interests, in addition to accepting bribes, unlawful donations to the Centre Party and money laundering.
Several other men including supermarket and real estate magnate Hillar Teder also stand accused by the same court of being involved in the giving or receiving of bribes (the other defendants are Aivar Tuulbergi, Alexander Kofkinit, Villu Reiljan and Vello Kunmanit, Kalev Kallot and Priit Kutser). Additionally the Centre Party itself stands trial as a legal entity.
The trial started on 12 June, 2017 at which all defendants pleaded not guilty with the exception of Reiljan who pleaded guilty.
Edgar Savisaar was Mayor of Tallinn from 2007-2015 and was a founder member and former chairman of the Centre Party. He was a leading mamber of the Popular Front of Estonia, a movement for independence for Estonia in the late 1980s to early 1990s.
Editor: Andrew Whyte
Source: ERR Uudised