Court proceedings underway against dismissed Tartu university library chief

Martin Hallik on ETV's
Martin Hallik on ETV's "Ringvaate" current affairs show on 27 November.

Court proceedings have been launched against Martin Hallik, former University of Tartu library director.

Mr Hallink was dismissed from the post in late August for ''undignified conduct'', though the nature of this conduct was not divulged at the time.

Subsequently, a woman who worked at the same library and handed her notice in a few days prior to Mr Hallik's departure was enticed to return to work (the same employee who made harassment allegations against Mr Hallilk).

In November an article in daily Postimees revealed claims of over a dozen of Mr Hallik's colleagues who alleged he had harrassed them at the library's Christmas party in 2017. Mr Hallik also allegedly behaved inappropriately towards a female colleague at an Association of European Research Libraries conference in France in July.

Unfair dismissal

In the meantime, Mr Hallik claimed unfair dismissal, taking his case to the labour dispute committee, which overturned the university's decision, ordering it to pay €118,000 compensation to Mr Hallik.

The latest criminal proceedings follow one of the library employee's police complaint. However Mr Hallik's lawyer Kristi Sild has rejected the harassment complaint.

''They [the employee] was directed to lodge the complaint by the university after it found out the plaintiff had not told the whole truth, failing to mention that they had been intimate with Mr Hallik on several occasions, on a consensual basis,'' said Ms Sild.

Ms Sild went on to allege the plaintiff had changed their story from one of not having been in any kind of intimate, consensual relationship with Mr Hallik, to having had one but with the mitigating circumstances of ''alleged internal dependency''.

''The labour dispute committee has gone through the entire case already, and contrary to media claims, it did not examine the formal job dismissal execution, but instead handled the harassment accusations," Ms Sild added.

Hearings to go ahead after a few months

In short, Mr Hallik's lawyer believes the police complaint arose from the twin pressures of fear of job loss and the university's desire to get a decision from the labour dispute committee, noting the timing (Mr Hallik learned of the police complaint against him three days before the committee sitting on the issue).

A spokesperson for the prosecutor's office declined to disclose details on the proceedings or what stage they are at; pre-trial procedure is likely to be concluded within the next few months, including what and how much material will be presented in court and/or can be publicly disclosed.

The prosecutor is also pursuing closed hearings to protect the defendant, ie. Mr Hallik's, privacy, it is reported.

Martin Hallik served as University of Tartu Library Director 2005-2010, then again 2016-2018. During the intervening time he was Vice-Rector of Research at the university, it is reported.

Mr. Hallik has been active in politics in Tartu as well, serving in the Social Democratic Party (SDE) grouping on the Tartu City Council, though not actually a party member.

According to Gea Kangilaski, SDE party leader at the Tartu City Council, Mr. Hallik requested in late August that his membership on the council be suspended for three months.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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