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Court to decide termination of proceedings in Savisaar case in August

Edgar Savisaar in the courtroom at Harju County Court.
Edgar Savisaar in the courtroom at Harju County Court. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The Tallinn circuit court is to decide by mid-August whether the criminal case of former Tallinn Mayor and Centre Party chief Edgar Savisaar, who had been standing trial on corruption charges, is to be terminated or not.

Harju County Court ruled on 5 June to terminate the criminal proceedings concerning Mr Savisaar, on the grounds of poor health, saying that the ruling is final and not subject to contestation.

However the Office of the Prosecutor General did not agree with the court's decision and decided to contest it.

The second-tier circuit court accepted the appeal from the prosecutor's office and decided that the case should be reviewed in written form. The court ruling is to be announced on 14 August at 14-00 EEST, a press officer for the court told BNS.

Estonia's court system is organised in three tiers, with the County Court being the lowest tier, from which cases can be appealed to the Circuit Court and the Supreme Court (the second and third tier courts respectively).

The Office of the Prosecutor General's argument

The substantive argument of the Office of the Prosecutor General in contesting the ruling of the Harju County Court is that two expert surveys on the health of Edgar Savisaar have been conducted during the past year, which both concluded that he is fit to participate in court sittings.

Therefore it remains unclear to the prosecutor's office why the court based its ruling on the opinion of the only expert who dissented and one dispatch of an ambulance crew.

Lead Public Prosecutor Steven-Hristo Evestus said that according to the Prosecutor's Office, the court disregarded without justification the expert opinion of six doctors whoall conducted the expert survey and did not explain in a convincing manner why the court found that the expert survey in its final conclusions should not be taken into consideration by the Court, leaving Mr. Savisaar not having to stand trial.

"Furthermore during the court's final sitting, the accused remained in Jõgeva hospital again and no official document concerning the reasons of the stay in hospital was presented in the courtroom," Mr. Evestus said.

"In addition, this indicates that for the period of the conduct of the final court sittings, the accused has been placed in one specific medical institution, which requires additional explanation,'' he went on.

"The Prosecutor's Office fully concurs that in certain cases termination of criminal proceedings due to an extremely difficult health condition of a suspect or an accused is justified,'' he continued.

''In the present case, however, the County Court has conducted no procedures to question the doctors who conducted the expert survey in order to get more clarity on the reasons and grounds for the dissenting opinion. Likewise, the court has not given consideration to creating other additional conditions that would enable the trial to continue. In conclusion, the Prosecutor's Office finds that the decision on termination is not substantively grounded and the leaving aside of the main accused should be explained especially convincingly by the court," the Lead Prosecutor concluded.

Mr. Savisaar had been standing trial on charges of corruption together with several other individuals and the Centre Party itself.

Edgar Savisaar was a cofounder of the Centre Party and was Mayor of Tallinn from 2007 to 2015. He was a pivotal figure in the drive for Estonian independence also.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: BNS

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