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County court rejects Varro Vooglaid's suit against ERR

ETV2 satire show Ongi Koik
ETV2 satire show Ongi Koik Source: Liis Sinitamm/ERR

Harju County Court on Thursday rejected a suit filed by Varro Vooglaid against Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR).

In December 2018, Vooglaid filed a suit against ERR in which he demanded the removal of a clip from ETV2 satire show Ongi Koik that insulted him, a public apology as well as €5,000 in financial reparations.

An episode of Ongi Koik to air last fall included a segment in which it was stated that Varro Vooglaid is a heterosexual male that thinks about gay sex three times more often than the typical homosexual person.

Harju County Court ruled that this statement was made in the context of satire which exhibits a key characteristic of a satire program — it caricaturizes public figures.

According to the court's assessment, the segment in question does not overstep the bounds of satire's distinguishing features, and it did not constitute malicious behavior toward the claimant in the eyes of the average viewer, but rather the claim in question was presented clearly as satire, not as fact.

Vooglaid has 30 days to appeal the county court's decision.

'I have better things to do'

Speaking to ERR on Thursday, Vooglaid said that he had not yet had the opportunity to thoroughly review the court ruling, but while he didn't agree with the court's position, he doesn't intend to appeal it.

"I don't have an endless interest in litigation," he explained. "Estonia's legal sytem has made its position clear in this matter, and I have better things to do with my life than go from court to court. I won't be appealing."

Vooglaid said that he would take note that a court in the Republic of Estonia is of the opinion that if one wants to spread defamatory claims about someone — claims that aren't true, and which damage their honor and dignity — all one has to do is call it satire and humor and then they have a free pass to do so as much as they want.

"Then we'll take note that propagating erroneous factual claims is not subject to prohibition by Estonia's legal system, if one does so under the guise of humor or satire," he said.

"I hope that that ERR is proud of its actions, that it demonstrates such high-level humor and satire and exercises great dignity, hopefully according to its own best judgment," Vooglaid added.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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