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Estonian court denies early release to traitor Herman Simm

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PHOTO: Kaitsepolitsei/Õhtuleht

Estonia's Tartu county court on Wednesday decided not to grant early release on parole to Herman Simm, a former senior national security official convicted of treason in 2009.

The court found that although it is quite unlikely that Simm, 69, would commit new crimes, he cannot be released in the interests of protecting the legal order, spokespeople for the Tartu county court's Valga courthouse said.

According to the court the only real threat in connection with Simm's early release would be that he would forward information he acquired before he was arrested to Russia's representatives, although most facts point to that possibility being quite unlikely because he has a wife, a home, a higher education diploma, health problems and he is old.

In addition, the court has reason to believe that it would not be that easy for Simm to contact Russian agents and forward information to them. Besides, there is also reason to believe that the information would be too old to interest Russians anymore.

The court decided not to release Simm in the interests of protecting the legal order as treason is an extremely serious crime.

Tartu prison supported the early release of Simm, while it was opposed by prosecutor Marek Vahing from the Southern District Prosecutor's Office.

Simm was found guilty of treason in passing on state secrets to Russia for more than 10 years and sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison in February 2009. His sentence began on Sept. 19, 2008 and ends on March 18, 2021. He has served two-thirds of his term by now and is eligible for parole without electronic surveillance if the court so decides.

In accordance with the Penal Code, a court may release an offender convicted in an intentionally committed criminal offense in the first degree on parole if he or she has actually served at least half of the term of the imposed punishment and agrees to the application of electronic surveillance, or at least two-thirds of the term of the imposed punishment without electronic surveillance. In both cases the offender must have served not less than four months of the term of the imposed punishment.

The court's decision can be appealed within 15 days of receipt.

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