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Second-tier court overturns termination of Savisaar trial

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

Tallinn Circuit Court overturned a ruling of the first-tier Harju County Court by which the trial concerning Tallinn ex-mayor and longtime Centre Party chairman Edgar Savisaar was terminated.

The appellate court found in a decision announced on Tuesday that the termination of the Savisaar tral on the grounds of his health condition had been premature and sent the materials of the case back to the county court for the resumption of the trial.

Tallinn Circuit Court pointed out that expert medical assessments had been conducted on two occasions to assess the condition of Savisaar's health. The expert panel had, despite Savisaar's chronic illness diagnosis, on repeated occasions declared that his condition would allow him to stand trial and, should he be convicted, also serve his punishment.

According to the court, the one dissenting opinion taken as the basis of the the county court's ruling cannot overrule the opinion of the majority of the expert panel. "As such, it has to be viewed as a clear and unequivocal minority opinion of the expert commission," the court added.

The endocrinologist on the panel to dissent argued that Savisaar is unfit to stand trial as increases in blood sugar and blood pressure caused by stress are difficult if not impossible to prevent in a courtroom. Contrary to this opinion, however, the expert medical committee was of the opinion that blood pressure and blood sugar levels in a patient suffering from hypertension and diabetes can be kept within prescribed limits via appropriate use of medications and observance of a prescribed diet. The expert committee also added that prompt medical assistance must be ensured for the accused during the trial.

The court also stated that it had no reason to believe that, following the completion of the expert medical assessment, some new and negative factor had been revealed in Savisaar's condition that could overturn the findings of the assessments conducted to date and justify the termination of the trial.

Regarding the right of contestation, according to the circuit court, the lower-tier court's ruling was contestable, as a questionable precedent may otherwise be set in which a trial is terminated on the grounds of an individual's health by mistake but that mistake cannot be rectified later. Thus, the circuit court deemed the county court's ruling contestable.

Harju County Court ruled on 5 June to terminate the criminal proceeding concerning Savisaar, who stood accused of corruption and economic crimes, citing the defendant's poor health and stating that the ruling is final and not subject to appeal.

The Office of the Prosecutor General did not agree with the court's decision, however, and decided to contest it. The second-tier court accepted the appeal, and decided that the case should be reviewed in written form. The court ruling was announced at 14:00 EEST on Tuesday.

Savisaar defence to appeal

Oliver Nääs, Savisaar's defence attorney, said following the announcement that they would definitely appeal the circuit court's ruling.

"One expert is of the opinion that Edgar Savisaar is precluded from standing trial due to his poor health, and we definitely cannot agree with Tuesday's circuit court ruling and will take it to the Supreme Court," Nääs told BNS.

The defence attorney refused any further comment as he had not yet been able to familiarise himself with the reasoning behind the circuit court's decision.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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