Savisaar trial co-defendant Alexander Kofkin's hearing starts Thursday ({{commentsTotal}})

Alexander Kofkin in court on Thursday.
Alexander Kofkin in court on Thursday. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

Trial hearings of co-defendants in a long-running corruption case revolving round Tallinn mayor Edgar Savisaar resumed Thursday, as per schedule, at Harju County Court. On Thursday, it was the turn of businessman Alexander Kofkin. The trial has already seen several hearings on individual defendants culminate in plea bargains.

Key witnesses will be questioned via a video link-up to a location in Spain, BNS reports.

The court's last sitting on the case, in mid-August, saw Vello Kunman, another co-defendant, denying both offering bribes to Savisaar, whose own on-off trial was called off last year due to his health concerns, and even being acquainted with the former mayor.

Kunman's defense lawyer, Paul Keres, had hoped to call Villu Reiljan as a witness, but had to abandon the plan Tuesday, according to BNS. Reiljan himself was a co-defendant, with his charges separated out from the rest of the case via a plea bargain which required him to pay the state slightly over €33,000.

Similarly, co-defendant businessman Hillar Teder admitted to illicit donations to Centre in June, as part of a plea bargain which saw the case against him dropped, as directed by the prosecutor's office. Teder was fined €200,000, payable to state coffers.

The same thing was done in June for the Center Party, itself a co-defendant on trial as a legal person, which sought a plea bargain with the Office of the Prosecutor General.

Center Party a co-defendant

Centre faced fines as high as a quarter of a million euros, related both to the corruption case(s) as well as an alleged illegal donation from businessman Paavo Pettai, plus earlier potentially illicit donations during the Savisaar era, but it struck a deal with the prosecutor's office soon after, which suspends the fines on the condition that the party commits no further infringements in future.

Kalev Kallo, former Tallinn city council chair, accused of aiding the giving and accepting of a bribe, former Tallinn city official Priit Kutser, accused of aiding and abetting embezzlement, whose proceedings were concluded for reasons of expediency, and construction magnate Aivar Tuulberg are the other individual co-defendants, together with Alexander Kofkin himself.

The Savisaar corruption case hearing began at Harju County Court on June 12, 2017 when the defendants said that they understood the charges but do not plead guilty. Savisaar was freed from trial on corruption charges on health issues in December 2018, after his own hearings went up the ladder of Estonia's three-tier court system, first to the circuit court, and finally the supreme court.

The Office of the Prosecutor General brought charges against Savisaar for accepting bribes, money laundering, embezzlement on a large scale, and accepting prohibited donations on behlaf of the Center Party.

Editor: Andrew Whyte



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