Crime rate shows strong decline

The crime rate in Estonia continues to show a sharp decline which however can be partly attributed to Penal Code changes that stepped into effect at the beginning of the year.

In the first five months of the year a total of 13,252 criminal offenses were registered, 2,879 fewer than the year before, which makes a year-on-year drop of 18 percent. At the same time the number of thefts and frauds fell even more sharply, by 31 percent and 40 percent, respectively. Registered thefts numbered 4,594 and frauds 614, respectively 2,019 and 412 fewer than during the same period last year.

The head of the analysis unit at the Justice Ministry, Jako Salla, explained that the review of the Penal Code affected mainly the number of criminal offenses against property such as theft and fraud primarily because the criminal limit was raised from 64 to 200 euros.

Robberies numbered 157 in the five months, four less than a year earlier. The number of traffic offenses on the other hand soared 21 percent, from 1,298 to 1,570. This too was connected with the amendment of the Penal Code, Salla said.

There was little change in the number of cases of physical abuse, with 2,246 cases registered in January-May 2014 and 2,298 this year.

A marked drop has occurred in manslaughters and murders, of which 20 were registered in the first five months of last year and 15 this year. The statistics include also attempted homicides.

Growth has been recorded in registered cases of serious damage to health (from 27 in 2014 to 39 this year), threats (from 268 to 297) and rapes (from 59 to 77).

A slight increase was observed also in drug-related crimes. Unlawful handling of large quantities of narcotics grew to 453 cases from 395 registered last year and handling of small quantities of drugs increased from 43 to 46.

Source: Baltic News Service via Estonian Review

Drug- induced mortality rates

narkosurmade tihedus Euroopas

Number of prisoners continues declining

In 2014 the number of prisoners held in Estonian penitentiaries continued declining, and at the end of the year the number of prisoners was smaller by more than 100 and offenders on probation by 600 compared to the beginning of the year, it appears from the Justice Ministry’s annual prisons review.

According to the fresh yearbook of the prison service the number of prisoners continues to decline, spokespeople for the Ministry of Justice said. While at the beginning of the year prisoners numbered 3,026 and probationers 6,138, at the end of the year the corresponding figures were 2,921 and 5,525.

During the year no murders or manslaughters were committed in penitentiaries, while eight deaths were registered. One prisoner committed a suicide, six died of a serious illness or a health disorder and a criminal investigation was launched to investigate the death of one prisoner under the Penal Code provisions dealing with negligence resulting in death. One criminal probe was opened on suspicion of sexual crimes.

“The prison system has made a big leap forward compared to the 1990s,” Justice Minister Andres Anvelt said commenting on the results. “Work environment has changed and training as well as motivation of prison guards has improved, and prisoners are dealt with personally. This all adds up to crime inside the prison as well as the number of people returning to prison declining,” he added.

Source: Baltic News Service via Estonian Review

Tax authority has better means to fight shadow economy

Marek Helm, director-general of the Tax Boad, says that, finally, the tax authority has the means to fight shadow economy, writes Postimees.

Helm said that such tools as the employee registry, reporting of transactions in excess of 1,000 euros, new reporting requirements on income and social tax and e-tax board are changes that were implemented in less than a year.

Helm said that many of his colleagues in other countries have expressed their surprise over such speed of implementation.

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Study of politician’s bank account shows close ties to businesses

A study of a bank account owned by convicted former Environment Minister Villu Reiljan and his wife Anne Reiljan shows how important business is in politics in Estonia, writes Äripäev in its investigative journalism report.

Proof of this is Villu Reiljan’s 50th birthday that he celebrated in May 2003. The total amount of money paid to his special-purpose birthday bank account by well-wishers was 220,000 kroons or over 14,000 euros. Cash donations may have amounted to as similar amount.

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Man found guilty of attempted bribery of customs officer

On Tuesday, 19th of August, Viru County Court found 35-year old Lithuanian citizen guilty of bribery in settlement procedure.

In the first minutes of 19th of August, the Lithuanian truck driver wished to skip a customs inspection of goods in the Narva Border Point and offered a bribe to a tax and customs officer to do so, placing a 500-rouble note inside his passport. A customs officer then detained the bribe-giver and handed him over to the police.

Marek Helm, Director General of the Estonian Tax and Customs Board said that this is the second similar case this year where an officer is pressured to skip a customs inspection and a bribe is offered to do that. “Attempts to violate rules are inevitable in border points but experience shows that bribe-givers end up in a courtroom. Officers in the customs and police are worthy of praise for preventing such acts of corruption, as well as the prosecutor’s office and court for their quick and good work,” Helm noted.

The Lithuanian citizen was given a one-year sentence. The suspended sentence is contingent on three years’ probation. The convict must pay almost 700 euros in fines and costs and the court also confiscated the 500 roubles offered as a bribe. The court judgment is awaiting entry into force.

The previous bribery case in a border point took place on 9 February when a Lithuanian truck driver offered a 50-euro bribe to an officer in exchange for skipping a customs inspection. The Lithuanian citizen was given a suspended one-year sentence contingent on three years’ probation.

Source: Estonian Tax and Customs Board

Estonian company fined for transporting illegals

Estonian road carrier AMK Grupp that has two trailer trucks was recently forced to pay 3,300 euros when its Estonian truck driver in September discovered three illegal aliens in its tent trailer, writes Postimees.

Although the truck driver promptly informed local authorities in Calais in France, the case was handled by British authorities who fined the company 3,300 euros, claiming that the company had not implemented proper measures to avoid illegal aliens entering the truck.

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