MP steps down because of son's shoplifting

  • 2002-11-14
  • Aleksei Gunter

Jurgen Ligi, chairman of the Reform Party faction in Estonia's Parliament, announced his resignation last week after his son was caught shoplifting two weeks ago. Ligi is the first Estonian MP ever to resign as a result of an indirect connection with a criminal offense.

Ligi's underage son and his friend were caught in the Stockmann department store two weeks ago stealing some 200 euros worth of clothes, the SL Ohtuleht daily reported.

Store security did not call the police as the teenager's parents agreed to pay for the stolen things, according to reports.

Ligi filed his resignation the next day.

"In connection with the incident with my son in Stockmann I decided to step down. As a father I want to protect my son, but it is clear I do not have the right for it," Ligi wrote, adding he will take a time out and dedicate more time to his family.

Ligi, 43, is a member of the Reform Party council, and prior to his resignation was member of Parliament's Financial Commission and an author and ideologists of the contemporary Estonian tax policy.

He is married and has two sons.

Aap Neljas from the Reform Party will substitute Ligi in the Parliament in accordance with Estonian laws.

Anu Toots, sociology faculty staff lecturer from Tallinn Pedagogical University, dismissed the idea that Ligi stepped down for ethical reasons.

"A father does not have to be responsible for his teenage son. Perhaps Ligi considered he had poor chances of being elected again next spring and decided to leave in a graceful manner," she said.

Although Ligi is the first MP to step down on an ethical basis, Toots did not think the resignation will make him a martyr.

Signe Kivi, Ligi's party associate and former minister of culture, stepped down in August because of a major financial fraud in a state-run charity under the ministry.

The sin list of Estonian MPs includes six Parliament members who have been caught drunk driving from 1997 on. One MP was found inebriated in a hotel in 1997, and three managed to get themselves compensation for apartment rentals. None of them has resigned.