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Estonia: Court finds guilty police officer who forwarded state secret, surveillance info

TALLINN - The Parnu County Court in a compromise procedure on Tuesday found guilty Ilmar Vahi, police captain of the West prefecture of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, who was accused of leaking a state secret, forwarding surveillance information and arbitrarily creating and eliminating evidence.

The prosecutor's office in collaboration with the internal control department of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board detected altogether 12 episodes in which Vahi illegally disclosed information regarding the pre-trial proceedings of criminal cases, illegally forwarded a state secret and arbitrarily created and eliminated evidence, spokespeople for the prosecutor's office told BNS.

Vahi as an aggregate punishment was handed a three-year jail sentence, of which six months will have to be served immediately and the rest will not be realized on the condition that the police official does not commit a new deliberate crime during a probation period of three years. The time spent in custody pending trial will be counted among the time of punishment and Vahi's arrest as suspect in the beginning of May 2018 will be counted as the beginning of the punishment to be served immediately.

Leading public prosecutor Steven-Hristo Evestus said that enough evidence was gathered in the framework of the criminal procedure to detect the grave violations. He said that the entire case is extremely regrettable. "A situation in which a police official with his activity knowingly damages the course of several criminal proceedings, the effort of his colleagues and the process of determining the truth not only undermined the concrete investigation but the trustworthiness of the Estonian law enforcement authorities and the administration of justice to a wider extent. This kind of behavior is unacceptable and is to be uniformly condemned," Evestus said.

Prii Paal, head of operations at the internal control department of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, said that the police suspended the service relationship with the man immediately after he was detained, and in the event of today's guilty verdict, the police officer will also be immediately released from service. "It is extremely important that there is strong internal control and the ability to purify itself in institutions with a lot of power. Only this way will it be possible to avoid and detect such grave crimes," Paal said.

The criminal procedure was carried out by the internal control department of the Police and Border Guard Board and led by the Office of the Prosecutor General.

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