Deputy mayor detained on suspicions of involvement in waste business

Yesterday's events came as especially bad news for Tomingas as he already has a major problem on his hands: he is being tried for offering a bribe to an employee of the General Staff of the Defense Forces.

Here are the facts concerning Tallinn's foul-smelling waste operation as they stood by yesterday evening: the public prosecutor's office suspects that Sarapuu's ATKO Grupp financed waste handler BWM that lacked the necessary resources to offer the capital waste management services. Suspicions against Sarapuu speak of violation of procedural restrictions. This suggests Sarapuu must have pulled strings in the city government to secure BWM with the winning bid. While Postimees is unaware of what that pulling of strings entailed exactly, Sarapuu's signature on the waste management contract is a possibility.

Acting Mayor Taavi Aas said yesterday that his recently modest interest in the deputy mayor's activities is the fault of the prosecution that failed to share its suspicions with the city government. “We have been in touch with [party chairman] Jüri Ratas, and we see no way for Arvo Sarapuu to continue as a member of the city government,” Aas announced yesterday.

The city government had made it known it would be terminating its contract with BWM the day before. “I'm very glad that BWM cannot continue handling Tallinn's waste. I assure you that when we made that decision we had no idea an investigation was underway,” Aas said.

Sarapuu's arrest also shines poor light on his wife MP Kersti Sarapuu (Center) whose initiative saw an amendment proposal to the Public Procurements Act that would allow local governments to create municipal monopolies and transport waste without having to fear competition entered into Riigikogu proceedings.

Detainment of the faction chairman's husband probably bodes ill for the amendment proposal's chances in the parliament. Kersti Sarapuu did not answer Postimees' calls yesterday.

The prosecution and KAPO did not deem it necessary to detain Sarapuu for long. The deputy mayor was allowed to go home once procedural matters had been taken care of by yesterday evening. Sarapuu's defender is Edgar Savisaar's lawyer Oliver Nääs who promised he would have comments by Friday.

Should the suspicions turn out to have merit, one might ask whether the fact Sarapuu promptly paid back the money he illegally used for campaign advertising and gave up his seat in the Riigikogu had something to do with hopes of benefiting far more from the capital's waste business. The public prosecutor's office said it has no information to suggest Sarapuu has already benefited financially from Tallinn's waste management.

Prime Minister, Center Party Chairman Jüri Ratas remained optimistic, despite back-to-back setbacks that have hit his party. “There is a saying in the world of sports that if you fall, you just have to get up and go on. That is also the case in politics. People who are afraid would do well to steer clear of politics. Rather I believe that these things need to be fixed, that things need to improve,” he said.

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