Latvian court decides to hand Skinest Rail bribery case to court in Estonia

  • 2018-01-16
  • LETA/TBT Staff

LIMBAZI – A Latvian court decided on Monday that the case of the Estonian company Skinest Rail will be separated from the bribery case of Ugis Magonis, former CEO of Latvian Railways, and sent to an Estonian court for trial.

A representative of Skinest Rail at Monday's hearing in Limbazi Regional Court asked the judge to separate the Estonian company's case from the Magonis bribery case. The Skinest Rail representative argued that under the Latvian Criminal Procedure Law legal entities that are registered in foreign countries cannot be tried in Latvian courts and have to stand trial in their countries of registration.

The representative also said that in order to hear the case, it will be necessary to summon at least 12 witnesses who are Estonian citizens, and the company needs an audit which can only be carried out in Estonia.

The judge of the Limbazi court granted the request, but dismissed a request made repeatedly by the lawyers of Estonian businessman Oleg Ossinovski, owner of Skinest Rail, to also separate the case of Ossinovski for hearing in Estonia.

Jelena Kvjatkovska, lawyer for Ossinovski, asked permission for his client to participate in future court proceedings by means of video conferencing. This request was partially granted, with the judge indicating that Ossinovskis will still be required to attend some hearings in person, but that he will be able to use video conferencing in other proceedings.

The next hearing of the case in the Limbazi court is scheduled for Jan. 26.

Previously, on Sept. 8, 2017, the court in Limbazi rejected Ossinovski's request to separate his case from the Magonis bribery case and let him be tried in Estonia.

The judge, however, reduced the size of bail on which Magonis has been released from 400,000 to 200,000 euros.

The regional court then did not commence the trial of Magonis and Ossinovski on bribery charges because a representative of Skinest Rail,a  company owned by Ossinovski, had failed to appear in court.

Before the court sitting, both Magonis and Ossinovski claimed they were not guilty of the crimes they had been charged with.

Officials of the Latvian Corruption Prevention Bureau detained Magonis in summer 2015. The head of the railway company is suspected of accepting a bribe of 500,000 euros from Ossinovski in reward for LDz Ritosa Sastava Serviss, a subsidiary of the Latvian state owned railway company, purchasing four old locomotives for several million euros from Skinest.

The Estonian millionaire has admitted giving the money to Magonis, but for an entirely different purpose.