Prosecutor: Sensitive info reason for plea bargain in treason case

Public prosecutor Inna Ombler.
Public prosecutor Inna Ombler. Source: ERR

The trial of Deniss Metsavas and Pjotr Volin followed a plea bargain due to the sensitive nature of the information involved, according to public prosecutor Inna Ombler.

The two men, Metsavas, 38, a former Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) officer, and Volin, 65, Metsavas' father, were sentenced yesterday to prison terms of fifteen and a half years and six years respectively. They had been passing on sensitive information, including state secrets to Russian secret services over the period of a decade, in Metsavas' case, and about half that in Volin's case.

"Both offenders gave testimony to the Internal Security Service (ISS) and were interested in a compromise procedure; the court also made the decision as a result of that," Ms Ombler said. A compromise procedure means that the defendants surrender various procedural rights, most notably contestation of their guilt. In effect, they pleaded guilty before the trial proceedings got fully underway, as a result of the decision.

Large volume of sensitive info in criminal file

The information fowarded to Russian secret services and related cirmes, which took place on both Estonian and Russian Federation soil, meant that a large proportion of the same information ended up in the criminal file, according to Ms Ombler.

"The decision to agree on a compromise procedure with the traitors was not only economic in terms of proceedings, but clearly related to the need to no longer handle sensitive information in court, which would have been an obvious requirement in the general procedure," she said.

"One of the most important rights is precisely that they can no longer contest the question of their guilt, neither in terms of its volume, nor its content, and the evidence is no longer being investigated. This is an added reason why the prosecutor's office, as well as the Estonian state, opted for a compromise procedure, and as a result of negotiations, the court considers the penalty agreement to be fully reasonable, and has affirmed it with a ruling," Ms Ombler went on.

The prison sentences handed to the two men, who were also liable for costs of a few thousand Euros each, have been backdated to the time at which they were apprehended by Estonia security services in September 2018.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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