Digest: Justice dispensed by courts, not deep state

Too ill to stand trial: Edgar Savisaar.
Too ill to stand trial: Edgar Savisaar. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Commenting on the Supreme Court's decision to end the criminal proceedings against former long-time Centre Party chairman Edgar Savisaar, ERR's Toomas Sildam writes that justice in Estonia isn't in the hands of a few select officials, as some suggest, but dispensed by the courts.

The Supreme Court handed down its decision on Friday to terminate all criminal proceedings against Tallinn ex-mayor and former longtime Centre Party chairman Edgar Savisaar in connection with the state of his health.

"Regarding Savisaar, it is apparent from the initial and supplementary expert assessments that the defendant is seriously ill," the Supreme Court said in its decision. "He has been identified as having several serious illnesses: chronic ischaemic cardiac disease, atherosclerosis, the presence of a cardiac or vascular implant, hypertensive heart disease with heart failure, and insulin-resistant diabetes."

"There is no question regarding the defendant's serious illness. Rather, the central legal issue is whether the aforementioned illnesses prevent Savisaar from standing trial and, if convicted, carrying his punishment."

Savisaar was accused of having used Tallinn city budget funds for personal and Centre Party gains, or embezzlement on a large-scale basis, as well as accepting four bribes, money laundering, and accepting prohibited donations on behalf of the Centre Party on a large-scale basis.

Sildam: Justice not dispensed by politically motivated puppet masters

ERR's political editor, Toomas Sildam, wrote in an opinion piece (link in Estonian) that the Supreme Court's decision shows that Estonia hasn't been hijacked by a political cabal of officials and policemen, as some suggest from time to time.

"There certainly are those who say that the Supreme Court's decision to end Savisaar's trial goes against their sense of justice," Mr Sildam wrote, adding that naturally everyone is entitled to their own opinion in the matter.

Justice isn't dished out by some mythical deep state, which according to the ideas of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) is pulling the strings and in which "politically motivated policemen and prosecutors" decide people's fate, Mr Sildam wrote.

"In Estonia, it's the courts that dispense justice, and they do so freely and independently. This has once again been confirmed. Criminal proceedings and trials cannot be kept going at any cost, and that's what we can read between the lines in the Supreme Court's ruling. This approach is right and just," he added.

Potential end of trial anything but clear

When the leading prosecutor in the case, Steven-Hristo Evestus, appealed the decision of the Harju County Court to terminate the trial due to the poor state of Savisaar's health, this seemed "a bit small-minded," Mr Sildam wrote.

"It looked as if the Office of the Prosecutor General doesn't know how to lose. These suspicions can now be taken back, and it is very good that the prosecution took the matter to the Supreme Court, because the latter's final say really was needed," he added.

At the same time, what Mr Savisaar's defenders had to say following the decision couldn't be taken at face value either, Mr Sildam finds.

"I'm not sure that [they] are right where they categorically say that the prosecution wasn't able to prove that Savisaar committed the offences he is accused of. The prosecutors certainly think the opposite, and will now be hoping to continue with trials of the businessmen involved in the case. If one of them is found guilty of having bribed an official, then somewhere there has to be an official who took the bribe, even if he may not be tried by a court anymore. But that official will be named," Mr Sildam wrote.

And that way it may still be possible to get an answer to the question whether or not this former prime minister, minister of the interior, mayor of Tallinn and Centre Party chairman is corrupt.

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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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