The trial in the criminal case concerning unauthorized clinical trials on humans started in the Tartu County Court on Monday, reports National Broadcasting. Charged with the crimes are well-known doctors Andres Sell and Lembit Allikmets. According to the charges, in 2006, 64 orthopedic surgeries were carried out in the outpatient surgery center Medex and in the Tartu University Hospital, using an anesthetic drug for which there was no authorization by the State Agency of Medicines and whereby patients were also not informed in accordance to the regulations. The prosecutor has stated that Sell incited Allikmets to forge a permit for the trials, and the latter did so. If convicted, the court may sentence the accused with a monetary fine or a prison term of up to three years. The Tartu County Court ruled that the trial would not be open to the public. The Southern Circuit Prosecutor Kristiina Laas requested that the sitting be declared closed in order to protect the private lives of the victims, as the case would reveal the data on their health records, which are considered delicate personal data. Defense lawyers also agreed with the prosecutor’s request.
Estonian Education Minister Jaak Aaviksoo stressed, when speaking in the Riigikogu on Nov. 17, that having more than 20 universities is not reasonable for Estonia, and in 5-10 years’ time there will most likely be less than 10 of them, reports National Broadcasting. “1.3 million people live in Estonia and it is unlikely that the number increases in the coming years,” Aaviksoo said. “Thus, according to international experience, there is a reasonable number of universities and certainly that number is smaller than the current number of universities exceeding 20,” he added. The central question is, however, the fact that 70,000 people are enrolled as students in Estonia, but only 10,000 get graduation diplomas each year. “This shows that the effectiveness of the whole system is not satisfactory,” he said.