The Estonian Supreme Court has upheld a decision of the Circuit Court which found businessman Teet Jarvet guilty of soliciting a bribe, in a case which has been described as one of the first private sector corruption cases to have been heard at any Estonian court.
The appeal at the Supreme Court was in fact the second time Mr. Jarvet had appealed the verdict.
He was found guilty in July 2017 at the County Court level, the lowest tier court, for attempting, together with a colleague, to elicit a bribe of €50,000 whilst overseeing reconstruction work on the Ida-Virumaa vocational training centre in the eastern Estonian town of Jõhvi.
The money demanded was to ensure the reconstruction work proceeded smoothly and without any hitches, it is reported.
Mr. Jarvet's actions were reported by the construction company and a conditional sentence of three years and four months was handed down by the county court for soliciting a bribe, instigation of document falsification and handling narcotic substances. In addition, Jarvet was prohibited by the court from engaging in business activities for three years.
Three-tiered court system
Mr. Jarvet appealed the decision at the next level of court, ie. the Circuit Court, the following November, but the corruption decision was upheld.
A conclusion drawn by the lower tier court which didn't arise from the statement of charges, which was that that the accused never even planned to perform the functions he was contracted for, was however overturned at the Circuit Court hearing, according to Circuit Court spokesperson Anneli Vilu.
Undeterred, Mr. Jarvet appealed the decision again, at the highest level, namely the Supreme Court, which announced today, Monday, that it upheld the decision of the Circuit Court.
The Estonian court system is organized in three levels, with the County and Administrative courts forming the lowest tier, followed by the Circuit Courts at the second tier and the Supreme Court, which is located in the university town of Tartu, rather than in Tallinn, at the third.
The Supreme Court simultaneously performs the functions of both the highest court of general jurisdiction and of the supreme administrative court as well as that of the constitutional court.
There are 236 judges employed in Estonia's court system.
Most corruption cases heard in any courts in Estonia have hitherto involved the public sector.
Editor: Andrew Whyte