EKRE reviewing status of 201 members with extant criminal penalties

Martin Helme talking to ERR at a recent EKRE council meeting. Source: Aurelia Minev/ERR

The board of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) said on Wednesday that it has enumerated 201 members who are serving extant penalties for criminal offences and who it is investigating.

According to political party statues, persons who are name on the criminal register, ie. still have some sort of sentence to their name, cannot be a party member, something which EKRE is going along with.

The board additionally identified a number of individuals who have served their penalty and are thus no longer on the criminal register, but which it will not readmit to the party. This included individuals who had served sentences for more serious crimes such as narcotics offences, domestic violence or pedophilia offences.

The EKRE board also announced that those who had been penalised for more minor, misdemeanour offences, would not be barred from party membership.

Minor offences not an issue

Around 50 people who had served criminal sentences in the more distant past but are no longer on the criminal register require further checks from the court archives. It would then be down to local party branches to decide on a case-by-case basis, whether that individual is suitable for party membership, following these background checks, the party said.

''We don't need to automatically prohibit participation in politics from amongst the some 600,000 Estonian people who have had to pay a fine in the past, or served sentences a long time ago,'' said party vice-chair Mart Helme, referring to members with more minor pecadilloes on their records.

EKRE also proposed a proactive solution which would prompt all parties to take action if a member is punished. The party suggested that the Information System Authority (RIA) develop an automated notification system, which would enable parties to keep their membership completely free of those serving criminal sentences, Mr Helme said.

EKRE has 8,842 registered members at present.

In mid-January, coalition majority Centre Party expelled 14 members with a non-expunged criminal record.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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