TALLINN - The Mons Court of Appeal in Belgium has changed the punishment of Margus Rahuoja, an Estonian national and former high-level official in the European Commission convicted of rape, replacing a real jail term handed to Rahuoja with a suspended sentence, Postimees reports, citing the French daily Liberation.
On Feb. 18, 2019, a court in Brussels found Rahuoja, former director at the Commission's Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport, guilty of rape and handed him a prison sentence of four years and ordered him to pay the victim a compensation of 30,000 euros.
According to the judgment, Rahuoja raped his victim, a colleague who was 20 years younger than him, at nighttime on the premises of the European Commission in September 2015.
According to the charges, the accused and his colleague were on the premises alone. The court handed down the verdict based on the statements of the victim, phone calls made by the victim and the findings of a medical examination of the victim. In addition, testimony was given by a colleague who had been on the premises before midnight and seen the young woman repeatedly reject the advances of her boss.
Rahuoja insisted that the victim had given her consent, but two sets of judges at the Brussels court dismissed his defense.
Rahuoja appealed the judgment of the first-tier court, only to have the court of second instance toughen the punishment handed to him and sentence him to six years in prison in October 2021.
Cedric Vergauwen, a lawyer for the victim, said at the time the Brussels court decided to increase the sentence after the appeal due to aggravating circumstances and the attitude of the defendant.
Rahuoja also appealed the second-tier court's decision and the Mons Court of Appeal has now given him a four-year suspended sentence.
Even though the European Commission released Rahuoja from work duties after criminal proceedings were launched against him in 2015, the Commission has continued paying him a monthly salary of 14,000 euros for the entire duration of the proceedings. It remains unclear if the Commission will pay Rahuoja a pension.