TALLINN- Estonia's Interior Minister Kalle Laanet has ordered a disciplinary investigation against the director general of the Police Board, Robert Antropov, over his decision to use a police vehicle for private purposes.
Laanet said he would make up his mind about Antropov after the end of the probe, most likely next week and not later than July 20.
The minister met with the police chief on July 14 to hear his explanations.
"Today's meeting did not provide a full picture of the incident. In legal terms, the Taxation Act and a decree regulate the use of official vehicles for private purposes. Whether this concrete instance comes under these rules has to be clarified," Laanet said.
Condemning Antropov's action, he added that a police chief could not afford to behave in a way that wounds the public's opinion of justice.
After meeting with the police chief, Laanet was under the impression that Antropov realized the impermissibility of his act.
"Before judging Robert Antropov's action, all aspects have to be weighed," he said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip told reporters he was against punishing a high-ranking official by disciplinary action. In such cases, he said, the officials involved are responsible for making disciplinary decisions.
"At the same time, my words shouldn't be interpreted as a call for Robert Antropov to tender his resignation," the PM added.
The use of official vehicles for private purposes is regulated by law, said Ansip, and is not a crime, provided the fringe-benefit tax gets paid. What's more, the prime minister said he was not convinced that the vehicle involved was Antropov's police car.
Ansip quoted the police service law, which says that the general director has, in certain cases, the right to utilize his official status while off-duty. However this rule applies only to ensure public order, the prevention of crimes and other such instances. The present case, he doubted, falls into this category.
Antropov was caught in another scandal on June 19, when he had an officer drive his parents to Saaremaa Island in the personal protection service's BMW X5 all-terrain vehicle.
The daily Postimees reported on July 14 that Antropov had used the luxury vehicle for private trips on numerous occasions.