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Estonian Justice Minister Kalle Laanet Resigns Amid Corruption Scandal

Sun 17 Mar 2024 | 09:03 AM
By Ahmad El-Assasy

TALLINN, Estonia – In a significant political development, Estonia's Justice Minister Kalle Laanet has announced his resignation amid a burgeoning corruption scandal involving the rental of an apartment from his stepson, as reported by Estonia's public broadcasting authority on Saturday.

Laanet conveyed to the national broadcaster, "To ensure legal clarity and peace of work within the government, I have decided today that I will not continue as the Minister of Justice. Another reason for my resignation is the undue public attack on my loved ones, who do not deserve such treatment."

The minister will continue his duties until the President appoints a new Justice Minister based on the Prime Minister's recommendation.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas remarked on Laanet's decision to step down, stating, "The decision made by Kalle Laanet today to resign as Minister of Justice is the right step under the current circumstances. For the sake of governmental operations and Kalle's own interests, it is necessary for him to take a step back at this time. I thank Kalle for his service as the Minister of Justice and will now commence the search for a new candidate for this position."

According to Eesti Ekspress, a leading Estonian newspaper, Laanet, during his tenure as both the Justice Minister and previously as the Defense Minister, rented an apartment in Tallinn from his stepson using public funds. Over the course of his two ministries, the state paid more than €12,000 in rent bills. The police believe that Laanet's actions violated anti-corruption laws.

Aivar Siib, head of the Central Criminal Police's Anti-Corruption Bureau, highlighted that the anti-corruption law prohibits an official from making decisions or handling transactions involving a person with whom they have a personal connection. In this case, as the minister, Laanet is considered an official, and his stepson is bound by the anti-corruption law.

Additionally, last week saw Laanet's conflict with Estonian Prosecutor General Andres Parmas becoming public. Laanet was accused of interfering in the operations of the Prosecutor General's office and pressuring Parmas to resign, as reported by Estonia's public broadcasting authority.

This resignation marks a significant moment in Estonian politics, underlining the government's ongoing struggle with corruption issues and its impact on the political landscape.