TALLINN - The Harju County Court on June 19 acquitted all suspects in the so-called land exchange criminal case, in which two former Estonian ministers and several prominent businessmen were accused of bribery, deciding that the transactions that they conducted were legal, reports Public Broadcasting.
The Harju County Court acquitted Villu Reiljan (59) of taking a bribe, Ester Tuiksoo (47) of taking a bribe, Toomas Annus (51) for repeated giving of bribes, Kalev Kangur (43) for repeated large scale taking of bribes, Einar Vettus (48) for giving a bribe, Tullio Liblik (47) for repeated giving of bribes and Tarmo Pedjasaar (44) for giving a bribe and aiding taking a bribe, and corporate persons AS Jarvevana and AS E.L.L. Kinnisvara for giving a bribe. The court also declared that their legal aid expenses would have to be paid by the state.
The State Prosecutor’s Office accused former Environment Minister Villu Reiljan and former Land Board head Kalev Kangur of giving information to businessmen on which land parcels, that had environmental protection restrictions on them, could be exchanged for other state-owned land parcels. The businessmen whom Reiljan and Kangur allegedly helped were construction company Merko Ehitus major owner Toomas Annus, Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Tartu region former board member Tarmo Pedjasaar, TSM company manager Einar Vettus and Saarte Investeeringud manager Tullio Liblik. According to the indictment, Kangur, Reiljan and the then Agriculture Minister Ester Tuiksoo received property and favors from the businessmen for these allegedly illegal activities.
According to the indictment, 13 allegedly illegal land exchange transactions, worth 250 million kroons, or nearly 16 million euros, were conducted.
All defendants claimed during the mammoth court process that started already on Nov. 12, 2009 that they were innocent of any crimes. State Prosecutor Laura Feldmanis said that the State Prosecutor’s Office will dispute the Harju County Court decision in the Tallinn District Court.