The Riigikogu voted on Tuesday to back the Chancellor of Justice's proposal and grant permission to strip Centre MP Kalev Kallo of his parliamentary immunity and allow his trial to continue. Centre and Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) MPs abstained from the vote.
A total of 52 MPs voted in favor of the Chancellor of Justice's proposal; there were no votes against it. In favor of the proposal were the parliamentary groups of the opposition Reform Party and the Social Democratic Party (SDE) and the coalition Isamaa. All 29 Centre and EKRE MPs present abstained from the vote.
In a statement ahead of the vote in the Riigikogu, Kallo said that he felt he had followed all standards of Estonian law, adding that he has also always been willing to cooperate with the Prosecutor's Office and the courts.
"I have been in the middle of this process for three years and eight months," he said. "This stressful time leaves its mark on both a person and one's work. I want to contribute fully to my work as MP, which is why I hope that parliamentary immunity will grant me peace to work. I respect the Chancellor of Justice's proposal and your decision, but I hope that you will give me the opportunity to work together with you undisturbed and without any additional stress."
On May 3, Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise signed a decision with which she approved an application by the Prosecutor's Office to strip Kallo of his parliamentary immunity, which would allow his trial to continue.
According to the Estonia Constitution, MPs are immune from prosecution, and criminal charges against them may only be brought on the proposal of the Chancellor of Justice and with the consent of a majority of MPs. Tuesday's vote means that Kallo's trial will be able to continue.
The Prosecutor's Office has accused Kallo in the aiding of the giving and accepting of a bribe. Kallo's charges are part of a larger case, in which several businessmen stand accused of giving Tallinn ex-mayor and former longtime Centre Party chairman Edgar Savisaar bribes. Aivar Tuulberg, Alexander Kofkin, Hillar Teder and Vello Kunman are facing charges in the same case.
MPs have previously been stripped of parliamentary immunity on nine occasions. In three cases, the MP was found not guilty. In another six, the MP in question was found guilty: Reform MP Margus Hanson; People's Union of Estonia MP Villu Reiljan; Centre MP Ester Tuiksoo; Centre MPs Priit Toobal and Lauri Laasi; and ex-Centre MP Urbo Vaarmann.
Kallo earned 289 votes in the March 3 general election.
The so-called Savisaar trial will continue on June 16.
Editor: Aili Vahtla