Estonian court clears university library ex-director of sexual offense

  • 2020-09-03
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The Tartu Circuit Court on Thursday acquitted Martin Hallik, former director of the University of Tartu Library accused of a sexual offence against his subordinate, overturning an earlier guilty verdict by the Tartu County Court delivered in March.

On March 18, the first-tier court punished 44-year-old Hallik for compelling a person to engage in sexual intercourse with a conditional jail sentence of one year and six months and imposed on him an obligation to pay the victim 5,000 euros.

The county court's decision was contested by Hallik's attorney, Oliver Naas, who applied for the Tartu Circuit Court to acquit Hallik. Naas also applied for the victim's civil action to be dismissed and Hallik's procedural expenses to be compensated. The prosecutor's office likewise contested the county court's judgement, seeking its partial cancellation and a real jail term to be meted out to Hallik.

The Tartu Circuit Court, which handled the case behind closed doors granted the application of Hallik's attorney and found Hallik not guilty. Having analyzed the case, the circuit court's criminal chamber found that there was no clear evidence of Hallik knowingly using his managerial position to commit the acts listed in the statement of charges.

According to the circuit court's criminal chamber, the county court's judgement is unfounded on the issue of Hallik knowingly taking advantage of his managerial position. The circuit court deemed arbitrary the county court's position that the accused was aware of the victim finding it difficult to reject his advances due to being his subordinate. 

According to the second-tier court, the victim has not referred to any circumstances indicating that Hallik had actually coerced or threatened her or manipulated with her in any other way to commit the acts listed in the statement of charges.

"In the court's assessment, the present case does not contain any evidence suggesting that the use of power would have been a means for Hallik to suppress the victim's actual will and thereby achieve the desired sexual activity," the circuit court said.

In connection with Hallik's acquittal, the victim's civil action will not be reviewed and the appeal by the prosecutor's office has been dismissed.

By the court's judgement, Hallik is to be paid 4,698 euros from the state budget for legal fees incurred in the appeal proceedings along with 30,834 euros for fees incurred in the county court proceedings. Sums of 2,214 euros and 22,362 euros are to be paid to the victim for representation fees in the respective two proceedings.

The circuit court's decision can be contested within 30 days.

In an article published by Postimees at the end of November 2018, 15 employees of the library of the University of Tartu described how their former boss Martin Hallik harassed them and their colleagues at the library's Christmas party in 2017. The employees also claimed that Hallik harassed a female employee of the library at a conference of the Association of European Research Libraries held in France in July of the same year.