Simm, Teinonen lose honors

  • 2009-03-18
  • By Jana Belugina

TALLINN -Estonian President Toomas Henrik Ilves has signed a resolution depriving Herman Simm and Risto Teinonen of the honors previously given to them by the Estonian government.
On March 13, Herman Simm was ordered to return his Order of the White Star, Class IV and a Class II Service Badge bestowed on him by the Estonian Defense Ministry.

This decision was taken following the announcement of the court judgment, according to which Simm, the former head of the Security Department at the Estonian Defense Ministry, was sentenced to 12 and a half years in jail for treason and forwarding secret information to outside sources. Simm was convicted of selling sensitive information to the Russian Federation.
According to the investigators, over the course of 13 years Simm passed thousands of classified documents to Russian intelligence.

The director general of the Information Board, Tarmo Turkson, has already stripped Simm of the service badge of the agency responsible for foreign intelligence in Estonia.
The Board of the International Police Association has also decided to expel Simm from the organization, a spokesman for the Police Board told BNS. Simm was an honorary member of IPA Estonia.
Risto Teinonen, meanwhile, was stripped of his Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, Class V, bestowed on him in 2001.

Teinonen, an ethnic Finn, received his honor as a Finnish Boy Scouts leader active in Estonia from then Estonian President Lennart Meri. He was then granted Estonian citizenship for special merit in 2002 by former Prime Minister Mart Laar.

President Ilves made the decision to withdraw the decoration from Teinonen due to the publication of photos showing him wearing the Order alongside a swastika armband at a private party in 2007.
Estonian security police have opened an investigation over suspicions that Teinonen was assembling neo-Nazis and skinheads. Police had suspected him of setting up an association directed against the Republic of Estonia, but the case was closed due to the absence of the necessary elements of criminal offense.
Teinonen said that he will file an appeal to the court over the decision to strip him of the honor. He said that the law banning the public display of occupational symbols came into force only in 2008, and that it is against the law to punish anyone retroactively.

Teinonen told Estonia's Kanal 2 television in a telephone interview from abroad that he intends to file the appeal against the decision at the beginning of April, when he comes back to Estonia.
According to Estonian legislation, the president has the right to withdraw previously awarded honors if there is a court judgment under which the bearer of the decoration is convicted of an intentionally committed criminal offense.

Indecent conduct of the person can also lead to the withdrawal of a decoration.
Following the presidential resolution, the decoration must be returned to the Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia.
Chief of the national security police Raivo Aeg said that Simm will probably start serving his sentence at either the Tartu prison or the Viru prison, or one of the two modern jails built in Estonia in recent years.