Aggressors apologize to Tarand, settlement requires approval of conciliator

Two men seen kicking MEP Indrek Tarand (SDE) at an anti-migration compact demonstration in front of the Riigikogu last autumn agreed before the scheduled beginning of their trial at Harju County Court on Friday morning to settle for a combined €2,000 as well as publicly apologized to the MEP. The formalization of this settlement, however, has since ended up tangled up in legalities.

The court could not sign off on the conciliation procedure, as the law does not allow for this to be done without first paying a visit to a public conciliator and receiving their approval of the settlement.

A judge on Friday thus drew up an order and forwarded the matter to the public conciliator at the National Social Insurance Board, who will need to sign off on the conciliation agreement before it can be returned to the court.

Tarand and the two defendants, Meelis Osa, 58, and Mart Rieberg, 56, submitted an application to the court seeking to resolve the criminal matter in a conciliation procedure. According to the terms of the settlement, Osa and Rieberg are to pay €1,080 as compensation for patrimonial damage as well as cover his legal expenses in the amount of €920.

Osa and Rieberg also agreed to publicly apologize to Tarand, which they did in the presence of the media prior to the scheduled hearing on Friday morning.

Both defendants read the following statement: "I, [Meelis Osa/Mart Rieberg], apologize to Indrek Tarand. I apologize for needlessly attacking him during a [Conservative People's Party of Estonia] demonstration on Nov. 26, 2018, and for using physical violence. I regret my actions and do not intend to ever repeat them. I am glad that Indrek Tarand is willing to forgive me."

"I accept these apologies and sincerely believe that Meelis Otsa and Mart Rieberg have understood the meaning of their actions and will not commit any further acts of violence in the future," the MEP said in response.

Prosecutor: No one should be afraid to speak their mind

The North District Prosecutor's Office has accused Osa and Rieberg of aggravated breach of public order by using violence.

According to the charges, the defendants kicked Tarand after the latter had climbed onto the podium and grabbed the microphone at the EKRE-organized demonstration in front of the Riigikogu on Nov. 26 last year. The MEP escaped without injury.

Alar Lehesmets, senior prosecutor at the North District Prosecutor's Office, said that using violence to defend one's positions is unacceptable.

"Everyone has the the right to demonstrate, and the square in front of the Riigikogu on Toompea Hill is the most appropriate place to speak one's mind," Lehesmets said. "Everyone shall have that right, and nobody must have fear that they might be attacked for speaking their mind."

The criminal investigation into the incident was led by the North District Prosecutor's Office and conducted by the North Prefecture of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA).

According to the Penal Code, those found guilty of aggravated breach of public order by using violence may face a pecuniary punishment or up to five years in prison.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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