Savisaar gets over €100,000 in returned seized funds, not full sum demanded

Courtroom at the new Harju County Courthouse.
Courtroom at the new Harju County Courthouse. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Former Tallinn mayor Edgar Savisaar is to receive over €100,000 in funds confiscated from him in the course of a long-running corruption trial, though not the full sum of over €200,000 he requested.

Savisaar, via his lawyer Oliver Nääs, had wanted around €200,000 returned after the corruption case against him was dropped in December 2018. Savisaar and various co-defendants stood accused of bribery and various other corruption charges, and following an on-off case which had to keep being suspended due to Savisaar's health issues, the decision to halt the case against him at the lowest (County Court) tier in the Estonian legal system, was upheld by the Supreme Court.

Harju County Court, where Savisaar initially stood trial, agreed to return funds in respect of the Hundisilm farm investigation from several years ago, to the tune of around 30,000 Kroons – Estonia's national currency at the time – or a little over €19,000 in today's money.

However, the court did not agree to a further €186,000 being returned to Mr Savisaar in respect of seized funds, drawing the line at €106,000, it is reported.

The court found that the €80,000 gap, consisting of money seized on the application of State Prosecutor Taavi Perni, in connection with bribes taken by Savisaar from construction businessman Aivar Tuulberg, was justified, so he will not be retrieving that sum.

Further damages requests rebuffed

Furthermore, Harju Court dismissed Mr Nääs' request for damages just under €229,000, on a technicality – the request had reportedly not been filed on time, in addition to €131,733 in lost salary as Tallinn mayor.

Similarly, a damages request from Tallinn city government lawyer Marko Kairjaki in respect of costs incurred during the trial by the Centre Party was also rejected (the Centre Party also stood as a legal person during the trial).

As with the trial itself, the Harju Court decision can be contested at the next level, the Tallinn Circuit Court.

The court also accepted the request of the state prosecutor's Office to involve Edgar Savisaar as a third party for further trial.

Savisaar's co-defendants were Aivar Tuulberg, Alexander Kofkin, Hillar Teder and Vello Kunman, Kalev Kallo, Villu Reilja and Priit Kutser, principally on charges bribery taking or offering.

Hearings began in June 2017 at Harju County Court (the case against Kutser was later dropped); in October of the same year, Reilja was required to pay the Estonian state €33,000 to the state.

Musical chairs

In June 2018, the county court suspended the trial on the grounds of Savisaar's health and the opinion of his doctor; the  Office of the Prosecutor General took the decision to the circuit court, who in August overturned the county court's decision. The last stage in this musical chairs saw the case go to the Supreme Court in October 2018, with the announcement that the trial would not go further coming in December.

In a separate case, The Supervisory Committee on Party Financing (ERJK) is pursuing the Centre Party over €110,100 in illicit funds during the Savisaar era, following an injunction it obtained in 2017. The party is currently entering its third round trying to fend off the watchdog's claim, this time at the circuit court.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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