Court leaves Hirv, Gammer in custody ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Harju County Court
Harju County Court Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Harju County Court on Tuesday ruled to keep in custody businessmen Hubert Hirv and Pavel Gammer, both of whom are accused of leading a criminal organisation.

With Tuesday's ruling, Judge Elina Elkind prosecuted Hirv, 60, and Gammer, 55, as well as 22 people and four companies as legal persons.

The court left unchanged all preventive measures taken into use thus far regarding the accused, which means that both Hirv and Gammer will initially remain in custody for the duration of the trial.

Hirv and Gammer stand accused of leading a criminal organisation, unauthorised surveillance, giving bribes in the private sector, concealment of tax liabilities, as well as illegally handling a firearm, ammunition and silencers as well as handling a weapon prohibited in civilian use.

The Office of the Prosecutor General is also accusing Gammer along with Ahmed Ozdojev, a person known in the Estonian criminal world currently out on €350,000 bail, of extortion.

Ardo Vilbre, head of finance for Hirv and Gammer's businesses, lawyer Viktor Särgava, Jelena Lipendina, head of Hirv and Gammer's catering establishments, security guards Aleksandr Russalim and Sergei Panov, Estonian Internal Security Service (ISS) ex-employee Viljar Subka and accountants Inga Gammer and Inna Stoljar stand accused of being members of a criminal organisation.

In addition to being a member of a criminal organisation, Vilbre was also accused of counterfeiting a document and attempting benefit fraud, Lipendina was charged with counterfeiting and using a forged document and tax avoidance, and Särgava was accused of knowingly using a forged document.

In addition to being accused of being members of a criminal organisation, Russalim and Panov will also stand trial in relation to unauthorised surveillance, while Russalim was also accused of illegally handling firearms and being in possession of a weapon prohibited in civilian use. 

Three companies, OÜ Escado Grupp, Restoplus OÜ and Emereana OÜ, have also been charged with belonging to a criminal organisation. OÜ Novatek Holding was accused of attempted benefit fraud.

Charges for the commitment of tax crimes were also brought against Mihkel, Galina, Liubov, Natalja, Raul, Anna, Niina and Svetlana.

In addition to leaders and members of the criminal organisation, charges have also been brought against Hando for concealing accounting documents and Ivar for accepting a bribe in the private sector.

Criminal organisation dating back to 2008

According to the charges, Hirv and Gammer had led a criminal organisation since 2008, the activity of which was aimed toward committing economic crimes for the purpose of obtaining monetary gain.

State Prosecutor Kati Reitsak said that the criminal organisation was involved in extensive tax crimes through companies that were under its control.

"A large portion of the tax crimes was made up by envelope wages systematically paid at the catering establishment of the heads of the criminal organisation," Ms Reitsak explained. "The organisation's aim of material gain was achieved by committing corruption crimes and crimes against property as a secondary activity. In addition to material gain, the criminal organisation also carried out unauthorised surveillance and handled illegal firearms, ammunition and silencers."

According to the charges, Hirv and Gammer had their security guards secretly monitor Veiko Kulla, former police officer and security businessman, Veljaddin Kerimhanov, leader of the Azerbaijani community who during the previous decade was within the sphere of interest of the Central Criminal Police, as well as another man known in criminal circles.

Investigation materials of the Central Criminal Police indicate that Ahmed Ozdojev attempted to extort $3.5 million from a Russian entrepreneur and threatened to kill them if they did not pay.

According to the materials, when solving the business dispute, Ozdojev told the Russian businessman that "The Chechens will come and kill everyone." Ozdojev categorically denies the crime, while Hirv and Gammer also deny their guilt.

Assets in the amount of over €1.3 million have been seized in the criminal case, including valuable jewelry, artwork, firearms, stuffed animals and other assets. In addition, mortgages placed on the real estate of the accused total over €3.8 million.

The pre-trial procedure of the criminal case was conducted by the Central Criminal Police and led by the Office of the Prosecutor General.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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