The newest chapter in Edgar Savisaar's defense tactics comes in the form of a voluminous medical history spanning decades his team has submitted for forensic medical examination. Analyzing the history will take months, keeping Savisaar's trial on hold.
„This medical history is one of the more substantial we've seen,“ said Director of the Estonian Forensic Science Institute Üllar Lanno. „We have been presented with evidence detailing a medical condition that has developed over decades, and our expert committee will have to go through it page by page,“ he explained.
Lanno said the institute realizes the severity of the matter and that its experts are expected to work quickly. „However, we have to work with these materials, and it takes time to go through such ample documentation,“ he said. Lanno echoed the institute's previous estimate: „The analysis will take four to eight months to complete.“
Professor of criminology Jüri Saar said that forensic medical analysis is carried out for example in cases where the accused is in a coma and cannot give statements in court during the trial. „Comprehensive forensic analysis, such as the one ordered in Edgar Savisaar's case today, is highly unusual under other circumstances,“ Saar said. He added that forensic medical analysis usually deals with matters of mental health.
„Perhaps that is the issue here, and his mind has been severely damaged – considering major surgery he has had,“ Saar said. The professor added that it is very good Savisaar's medical condition will be comprehensively evaluated, including his mental state.
„That said, what they (the defense – ed.) are saying in terms of a mistrial due to the accused's inability to appear in court – it is unusual and could create a very unfortunate precedent,“ Saar said. He added that such defense tactics are cynical and degrade the justice system.
Savisaar and his defenders seek to terminate the criminal matter on grounds of the politician's medical condition before the trial can start in earnest.
Savisaar has been charged with consenting to extensive bribes on multiple counts as well as extensive money laundering. Charges also include multiple counts of large-scale embezzlement and accepting of illicit donations to the Center Party.
The forensic institute has formed a committee of experts to analyze Savisaar's medical history. Savisaar posted the expert opinion of his cardiologist Jaan Eha on social media on Saturday in a possible attempt to sway the panel.
The acclaimed cardiologist lists all manner of medical procedures Edgar Savisaar has received since 2003 as well as his complaints, and concludes Savisaar's condition is likely to deteriorate during the trial and could even lead to sudden death.
Savisaar, still in charge of the Center Party at the time, was prepared to run for president a year ago when his medical condition had, according to Eha, already reached its current poor state. Savisaar is currently weighing whether to run in this fall's local elections. Savisaar attended a kindergarten's birthday party just before the holidays where he gave a speech and an interview to the Pervõi Baltiski Kanal (PBK).
Forensic specialists carry out more than 2,400 analyses every year in Estonia more than half of which concern people who are already dead, while examinations of living persons usually concern victims of attacks. Expert analyses like the one in Savisaar's case are rare.
Judges and attorneys approached by Postimees said that cases where criminal proceedings have been terminated because of the accused's medical condition number very few.
One such case concerned one of the many participants of the so-called Paulus trial, Rainer Soo, whose case was closed due to his medical condition. Soo's lawyer Sirje Must said it took several expert analyses before the court decided to terminate the matter.
„He could (and can) only lie down, he couldn't walk, and it was impossible to transport him in a car as every move he made caused him sharp pain. He was also constantly under the effect of strong painkillers and unable to participate in the trial even via video conferencing,“ Must described. That was the first time in Must's career a matter was terminated over the accused's medical condition.
„Another one of my clients was ordered to undergo forensic medical examination in the Narva courthouse; time will tell how that will end,“ she said. „The person is in prison, has physical and other kinds of problems and a long medical history,“ she said. „It will be very interesting to see how these analyses will turn out for different people,“ she said, pointing to the perceived gap between a simple accused awaiting trial in prison and Edgar Savisaar.
Termination on grounds of medical condition was considered years ago in cases where people accused of repeated crimes against humanity had reached old age. Rulings were deferred only in isolated cases.
Judge Kristel Pedassaar of the Kuressaare courthouse, who has tried a dozen Saaremaa deporters, recalled that the court had to terminate proceedings on grounds of the medical condition of the accused on a single occasion.
„The accused was ailing, underwent several expert analyses, and the case was finally terminated after lengthy proceedings,“ the judge remembered. Pedassaar added, however, that cases of crimes against humanity by deporters that are not subject to expiration cannot be compared to charges against Savisaar.