Estonian court to weigh Tallinn ex-deputy mayor's criminal case behind closed doors Monday

  • 2022-06-06
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The Harju County Court is to discuss behind closed doors on Monday the criminal case concerning alleged false testimony given by former deputy mayor of Tallinn Eha Vork.

The court has declared the case closed in parts that will see Vork's health data disclosed.

Vork has pleaded not guilty in the proceedings, which began in mid-May.

Attorney Oliver Naas at the time sought for the judicial investigation to be partially closed regarding Vork's health data.

The Office of the Prosecutor General accuses Vork of knowingly giving false testimony in criminal proceedings as a witness. According to the charges, on May 5 last year, Vork gave false testimony to the Central Criminal Police when questioned as a witness in a criminal case concerning a donation of 50,000 euros to the Center Party.

Vork has pleaded not guilty, saying that she did not knowingly give false statements to the police. According to the former deputy mayor, she had simply forgotten about the telephone conversation she had had eight months earlier with Jana-Helen Juhaste, a member of the Center Party's women's caucus and the person who made the donation.

Vork has also stated that she had no motive to lie because she was not involved in the donation and had no personal interest associated with it.

The Harju County Court on Nov. 15 last year closed proceedings against Juhaste and her former life partner Martin Kunnap, who were accused of making a prohibited donation of 50,000 euros to the Center Party, and endorsed an agreement on punishment agreed between the prosecution and co-defendant Catalina Porro.

The court ordered Kunnap to perform 200 hours of community service and make a donation of 15,000 euros to the Tallinn Children's Hospital Support Fund and Juhaste to make a donation of 5,000 euros to the Children's Fund of Tartu University Hospital.

By the court's order, the 50,000 euros seized as a prohibited donation were transferred into public revenues.

The court also upheld a deal entered into by Catalina Porro, fellow accused of the former in the case, with the prosecutor's office, according to which the court sentenced her to a fine of 2,500 euros, minus the two days spent by her in pre-trial detention, and ordered that this fine be conditional with one-year probation. In addition, 20,000 euros will be confiscated from Porro to the state. 

Kunnap and Porro were accused of entering into an agreement on influence peddling. According to the charges, Kunnap gave Porro 20,000 euros and the Center Party 50,000 euros in return for a promise concerning the use of alleged influence by Porro to achieve a favorable decision concerning building rights for real estate developments of companies connected with Kunnap.

Even though, according to the charge sheet, the claims of Porro concerning her influence were unsubstantiated and, consequently, the desired result was not achieved as a result of influence peddling, according to the prosecutor's office this was nevertheless a situation where an attempt was made to facilitate business by unacceptable means. 

In addition, Kunnap and Jana-Helen Juhaste were accused of making a forbidden donation. According to the charges, Kunnap in January 2020 donated 50,000 euros to the nonprofit MTU Eesti Keskerakond, the legal entity of the Center Party, but conducted the transfer via Juhaste to conceal his connection with the donation.