Prosecutor's office to apply for stripping Estonia's ex-minister of parlt immunity

  • 2021-09-09
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - No applications were filed by deadline with the prosecutor's office by the defense counsel in the criminal case of Estonia's former minister of education and research and member of the Center Party's management board Mailis Reps; thus, the prosecutor's office is in the process of making preparations for having Reps' parliamentary immunity lifted, the online news portal of public broadcaster ERR reports.

After the materials in the criminal case were shared with Reps' defense counsel, the latter had an opportunity to submit applications with the prosecutor's office in the pretrial stage, for instance for the purpose of taking additional statements or adding other evidence to the file.

The deadline for applications in Reps criminal case was on Thursday. Reps' defense lawyers did not submit any applications by the said deadline, according to the prosecutor's office. Only an application pertaining to a civil action arrived from the injured party, spokesperson for the Office of the Prosecutor General Kairi Kungas said. 

It transpired on Tuesday that the Ministry of Education and Research has filed a claim against the former minister of education. Marko Kairjak, partner in Ellex law firm and the ministry's representative in the case, did not disclose any detailed sums sought with the action due to there being an ongoing criminal investigation in the matter.

As Reps' defense counsel has not submitted any applications, the prosecutor's office has begun the process of taking the criminal case to court. With Reps being a member of the parliament, she will first need to be stripped of her immunity before she can be tried. Firstly, the prosecutor's office will need to file an application with the chancellor of justice to have Reps' immunity lifted

If the justice chancellor grants the application, she will need to make a corresponding proposal to the parliament, and the proposal requires the support of the parliament's majority.

"We're making preparations for sending the application to the chancellor of justice," Kungas said.

ERR was unable to reach Reps for a comment. Her attorney, Paul Keres from Levin law firm, did not wish to comment on Reps' criminal case, either.

In fall 2020, it transpired that the then minister of education and research Mailis Reps had been using the ministry's assets and workforce in the interest of herself and her family. Reps also had the taxpayer cover a birthday party at the Mon Repos restaurant. The affair culminated with Reps stepping down from her position as minister and criminal proceedings having been launched into the matter. The case has yet to be sent to court.

Reps is not running in the upcoming local government council elections.