Traditional family rights group demands return of Tarand compensation money

The two men who kicked MEP Indrek Tarand (SDE - pictured) at a demonstration last autumn publicly apologized on Friday. May 10, 2019.
The two men who kicked MEP Indrek Tarand (SDE - pictured) at a demonstration last autumn publicly apologized on Friday. May 10, 2019. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The Foundation for the Protection of the Family and Tradition (SAPTK), a self-proclaimed traditional family rights pressure group, has said it is initiating proceedings to reclaim €2,000 from outgoing MEP Indrek Tarand.

The money relates to compensation two Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) members agreed to pay Tarand in May, following an incident outside the Riigikogu in November last year.

EKRE party members and leadership had been protesting Estonia's approval of the UN compact on migration, when Tarand launched his own counter protest, using a microphone EKRE had provided to address the crowd. In an ensuing scuffle, Tarand was pushed to the ground and kicked at least once.

SAPTK head Varro Vooglaid says that the €2,000 was provided from donations to its fund to Tarand, but the latter did not agree to this method of compensation, asking that it come directly out of the pockets of the two EKRE members in question, Meelis Osa and Mart Rieberg, instead.

Tarand also promised to return the original compensation to SATPK, Vooglaid said, according to ERR's online news in Estonian.

Vooglaid noted in a press release that, while the two EKRE members had transferred €1,000 each to Tarand at the end of May, the latter had not returned the SAPTK-derived funds yet, thus receiving double the agreed amount.

SAPTK also claims that Osa and Rieberg's lawyer, Urmas Simon, had also approached two representatives of Indrek Tarand, Maria Mägi and Simo Soolo, reiterating the request for the return of the funds, with Vooglaid stating that he wrote to Tarand and his representatives asking for the same, last week, and that if the request had not been satisfied by June 28, the situation would be made public and law enforcement agencies approached.

"Unfortunately, Mr Tarand has proven once again that he is no gentleman," Vooglaid said.

"Spinning things out in rejecting the original SAPTK transfer on behalf of Mr Osa and Mr Rieberg and not returning the funds to SAPTK for over a month, even though he had promised to do so in May, demonstrates that he cannot be considered in the least bit respectable. This is the behavior of a knave, not that of a representative of the people," Vooglaid continued.

Vooglaid added that in a case where Tarand does not return the money to SATPK, it is necessary to recourse to legal action. SATPK also made a statement to the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) asking them to initiate criminal proceedings on the basis of the section of the criminal code dealing with property seizure.

"Tarand has ignored at least three requests to return money which was received from SAPTK, and there is reason to believe that he will not return the money," Vooglaid continued.

Ahead of the first hearing into the case, at Harju County Court in May, Osa and Rieberg agreed to pay €1,080 in compensation, and €980 in costs, relating to the incident.

However, legal procedure required the consent of a public conciliator, to whom the judge forwarded the matter at the time.

The two defendants also read a statement of apology in May thus: "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."

For his part, Tarand responded that: "I accept these apologies and sincerely believe that Meelis Osa and Mart Rieberg have understood the meaning of their actions and will not commit any further acts of violence in the future."

SAPTK is "based on the goal of building on the christian teaching of traditional social organization, which respects family, moral law, human dignity and rights, and property, and the protection of European cultural heritage in all areas of social life," according to its own website.

Indrek Tarand was an independent MEP for ten years, 2009-2019, but was not returned at the May 26 elections, where he ran for the Social Democratic Party (SDE).

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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