A Tartu court handed down a fine to Estonia's former Defense Minister Margus Hanson on Nov. 22 for negligence leading to a loss of documents that contained state secrets. The court demanded Hanson pay 97,500 kroons (6,230 euros), or about half demanded by the prosecution. Defense attorney Marti Haal asked the defendant to be acquitted in the absence of necessary elements for a criminal offense. Prosecutor Heili Sepp said he was satisfied with the conviction and was not planning to file an appeal.
If the state expands its ban on the late-night sale of alcohol and hikes the alcohol excise duty, organized crime could increase and the people's sense of justice could be corrupted, Justice Minister Rein Lang said. The alcohol sale ban currently applies to 50 local governments and has failed to produce the desired result, he said, adding that because of the ban, even moderate drinkers were stocking up on booze in their homes and drinking more in the end. "What has been achieved is that a law-abiding citizen, ending his workday late in the evening, is no longer able to buy a bottle of wine or beer," the minister said.
A U.K. national who attacked an off-duty police officer in Parnu after being approached for urinating in public escaped imprisonment but was forced to pay a fine. The prosecutor's office ended the investigation on the basis of an article that allows for the dropping charges, assistant prosecutor Mai Merisaar said. "Under that article, the offender won't be sentenced by a court but must compensate the damage to the party that suffered, pay for the costs of the proceedings and pay into state revenues a sum demanded by the prosecutor," Merisaar told the Baltic News Service. The 30-year-old Briton, identified by his first name as Stephen, paid more than 5,000 kroons.
Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said a meeting with the future chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, showed that they see eye to eye on many things. Ansip said that he and the leader of German Christian Democrats hold similar views on quite a few questions concerning the EU's financial perspective. He also said he and Merkel were largely in agreement about Estonia's taxation system, which was criticized by the previous German government.
The government has endorsed the state Seto cultural program for the years 2006-09. Culture Minister Raivo Palmaru said the aim of the program was to preserve the cultural and linguistic peculiarity of the Seto and increase the value of the Seto area as a living environment. "Existence of the Seto's traditional culture today is rare both on European and global terms," the minister said. Palmaru added that the government decided to give an additional 2 million kroons to the program, bringing it up to 20 million kroons (1.2 mln euros), a sum that will be spread out equally over the four years.