Latvian court rejects Oleg Ossinovski’s request to be tried in Estonia

The court of the Limbaži region of Latvia rejected a request of the defense counsels of Estonian businessman Oleg Ossinovski on Friday that he be tried for bribery charges separately from co-defendant and former Latvian state railways CEO, Ugis Magonis, and also that he be tried by an Estonian court.

The judge justified the rejection of the request pointing out that most of the witnesses were Latvian, and that it would be difficult for them to appear before a court in Estonia - said.

The court decided to lift the ban on Magonis to meet with Oleg Ossinovski. The two previously weren’t allowed to meet in person.

At the request of Magonis’ lawyer, bail for Magonis was reduced from €400,000 to €200,000, while another request to lift the ban on Magonis to leave the country was denied.

Magonis’ attorney, Janis Rozenbergs, said that his client has cooperated with investigators and there is no reasons to believe that the reduction of bail would affect the progress of the court trial.

The next court sitting in the high-profile bribery case was set for Jan. 15, 2018.

Hearings set for Friday were postponed because a representative of Estonian company Skinest Rail, owned by Ossinovski, failed to appear in court.

Estonia's Oleg Ossinovski deemed suspect in Latvian Railway ex-head case

Meanwhile Jelena Kvjatkovska, the lawyer representing Ossinovski, submitted a request that her client be tried separately and in Estonia, as the alleged crime had taken place there. Kvjatkovska said that in such a case, Ossinovski would still have the status of a witness in Magonis’ trial, but wouldn’t be required to travel to Latvia for his appearances before the court.

Before Friday’s sitting, both Magonis and Ossinovski repeated earlier statements that they were not guilty of the crimes they were charged with.

The Latvian Corruption Prevention Bureau detained Magonis in summer 2015. The ex-CEO of state railway company Latvijas Dzelzceļš is suspected of having accepted a €500,000 bribe from Estonian millionaire Oleg Ossinovski for LDz Ritošā sastāva serviss, a subsidiary of the state railway company, would buy four old locomotives for several million euros from Ossinovski’s Estonian company, Skinest.

Another of Ossinovski’s lawyers, Saulvedis Varpins, has said earlier that Ossinovski did not admit his guilt in bribery, but didn’t deny handing the cash over to Magonis either. The Estonian businessman confirmed that he had given the money to Magonis, but for an entirely different purpose.

Oleg Ossinovski is the father of Minister of Social Affairs Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE).

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