Kofkin trial eyewitness says the businessman paid Savisaar's medical bill
A witness in the hearing of one of the co-defendants in the Edgar Savisaar corruption trial has said that the former Tallinn mayor received treatment in Spain which was paid for by businessman Alexander Kofkin.
Savisaar was in the dock in an on-off trial from summer 2017 accused of various grafting and corruption charges. After the case passed through all three levels of the Estonian court system, it was abandoned on health grounds in late 2018. Several co-defendants and the ruling coalition Centre Party, which Savisaar co-founded, were also on trial. Many of these have come to separate agreements with the prosecutor's office over the course of the hearings.
Thursday was the turn of the Kofkin hearing, and the evidence given by the witness in Spain was provided via a live video link.
The witness, medical worker Ursula Bernerth, said that she was working at the Atalaya Park hotel in Málaga in 2014 and had known Alexander Kofkin for at least ten years. The latter was a regular patient with her employer, Bernerth said. On one occasion, Edgar Savisaar visited the medical practice where she was employed together with Kofkin and a woman, named as Centre Party MP Siret Kotka-Repinski, BNS reports.
Kotka-Repinski became a Centre MP in 2015.
Savisaar, who in addition to being plagued by health issues during the course of his own trial, lost a leg following a streptococcal infection detected following a trip to Thailand in 2015, opted for the same treatment that Kofkin regularly received. The exact nature of the medical treatment was not reported.
Kofkin paid for Savisaar's treatment, which came to €140, eventually paid in cash, according to the witness.
"Since Kofkin was in the middle of his own treatment plan, it was agreed that Kofkin would ultimately pay for all treatments," Bernerth said, confirming to the prosecutor when asked that that included Savisaar's treatments.
Kotka-Repinksi received only a consultation, which incurred no charge, BNS reports.
Bernerth's statement contradicts a testimony given earlier on in the day by Stanislav Andrejev, Kofkin's driver and assistant, who said that Savisaar and Kotka-Repinksi paid for all their expenses while in Spain as guests of Kofkin out of their own pockets.
Bernerth also stated that communicating with a medical service provider was standard practice for Kofkin, in her experience, and that Savisaar had communicated his treatment requests via the businessman.
Bernerth also said that she did not get the impression that Kofkin's offer to pay for Savisaar's medical treatment was part of a possible quid pro quo for other services Savisaar had rendered to Kofkin earlier.
Most of the charges in the ongoing corruption case, in which the Centre Party itself stood as a legal person, concern the giving and taking of bribes, embezzlement, illegal donations to the Centre party and money laundering.
The Centre Party was effectively let off a fine which stretched into hundreds of thousands of euros, relating to other corruption charges as well as the current hearings' activities, in a deal with the prosecutor's office which suspended the fine providing the party does not err along such lines again.
Kofkin himself is scheduled to take the stand at Harju Crown Court later on Thursday.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte