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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Prisoners file compensation claims against the state

The recent ruling of the European Court of Human Rights which found that lack of prisoner space in Tallinn Prison amounts to inhuman treatment has triggered similar claims from several prisoners, writes Postimees.

Eleven inmates held in Tallinn Prison have now sued the Estonian state claiming compensation for their „inhuman treatment,” saying that the ratio of prison cells per prisoner is below the statutory limit.

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Men imprisoned for misleading investors

Harju County Court on May 30, 2014 sentenced four men to prison for misleading investors in a 12-million-euro investment project in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.

Erik Piirsalu and Tõnis Haavel, both 43 will have to serve six months in prison and accomplices Harles Liiv, 41, and Šarunas Skyrius, 36, both three months. All four men were also handed suspended sentences to take effect after release from prison. The men will also have to pay back 11.8 million euros to 31 investors, ranging from 1,000 to 4 million euros per investor.

Read more from ERR