Estonian arrested as spy in Russia demands Estonian-language indictment

The trial of Estonian aviation businessman Raivo Susi, who has spent the last year and a half detained in a Moscow jail, is expected to begin in October or November, after the indictment has been translated into Estonian.

The preliminary hearing of the court in August ended with a somewhat surprising outcome, as the court sent materials back to the prosecutor's office for "elimination of significant shortcomings," Arkadi Tolpegin, Susi's defense lawyer, told daily Postimees.

"The investigators did not present to the accused a copy of the indictment in Estonian," he said. "As things currently stand, case materials haven't been sent back to investigators from the prosecutor's office."

Spokespeople for Moscow City Court noted that in the same Aug. 23 ruling, the court extended custody of Susi, this time through the end of November.

According to Tolpegin, the prosecutor did not explain at the preliminary hearing the absence of a translation of the statement of charges into Estonian. "It was purely a mistake of the investigation," the lawyer said, noting that translating the indictment and sending it back to the court may take up to two months.

"The matter of pleading guilty or not guilty was not discussed at the preliminary hearing; nobody asked Susi such questions," Tolpegin said.

The Criminal Code of the Russian Federation grants defendants in court the right to read the materials of a criminal case in their native language, as well as speak in court in their native language and use the services of an interpreter for free.

When Postimees asked whether the indictment of Estonian Internal Security Service (ISS) officer Eston Kohver, who was convicted in Russia on espionage charges two years ago and then exchanged for a Russian spy imprisoned in Estonia, was translated into Estonian, Yevgeni Aksyonov, Kohver's Russian state-appointed defense lawyer, said, "Everything was consistent with the procedural code of Russia."

Asked whether or not Kohver requested that court materials be translated into Estonian, Aksyonov responded, "Ask Eston; he's closer to you."

The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) arrested Susi at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport on charges of spying in February 2016 as the Estonian was en route from Tallinn to Tajikistan.

Susi is known to have engaged in the large-scale trade in aircraft and their spare parts in the territory of the former Soviet Union. The only thing known about the actions that, according to Russia, might constitute espionage is that they took place between 2004-2007.

The criminal investigation concerning Susi was opened only at the beginnig of last year, after Susi had meanwhile visited Russia on multiple occasions without issue.

Susi has categorically denied any involvement in spying.

The Estonian businessman has by now spent 19 months at the Lefortovo pretrial detention facility in Moscow, the same prison where Kohver was held from September 2014 to fall 2015. According to Postimees, the investigator conducting the investigation concerning Susi was involved in Kohver's investigation as well.

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