Formin: Estonia condemns sentencing of Eston Kohver

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Photo: Mihkel Maripuu / Postimees

Estonia strongly condemns the sentence handed down to Estonian Internal Security Service (ISS) staffer Eston Kohver in Russia on Wednesday as well as the entire trial, Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand said.

«The abduction of Eston Kohver from the territory of the Republic of Estonia by the FSB on September 5 last year and his subsequent unlawful detention in Russia are a blatant violation of international law and human rights,» Kaljurand said. «Today's decision of the court does not change our position. We demand from Russia immediate release of Eston Kohver,» the minister said according to remarks released by spokespeople for the Foreign Ministry.

Kaljurand said the trial of Kohver had nothing to do with fair administration of justice from the start. «Our consul was not allowed to the court sittings earlier and Eston Kohver was left without competent legal aid,» Kaljurand said. «We demand that Russia observe obligations arising from international law, release Eston Kohver and ensure his safe return home,» she said.

«We intend to keep up international pressure with our partners and allies until Eston Kohver is released and allowed to return home to his family,» she added.

A court in the Russian northwestern regional capital Pskov on Wednesday sentenced Kohver to 15 years in jail and fined him 100,000 roubles (EUR 1,375).

The court found Kohver's guilt to be proven in espionage, illegal border-crossing, possession of a firearm and smuggling of a firearm and sentenced him to 15 years in a strict security prison. The prosecutor had sought a 16-year jail sentence for Kohver. The Estonian security official denied guilt.

The trial that started at the end of July was held behind closed doors.

As a sign of protest, the announcement of the sentence was attended by a diplomat from the Estonian embassy in Moscow and a diplomat from the representation of the EU in Moscow.