Sa, 2.12.2023

Prison sentence requested for man who threatened prime minister

Andres Einmann
, daily news editor
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At Harju County Court session yesterday, state prosecutor Steven-Hristo Evestus required real imprisonment for  Martin Kattai accused of threatening to kill prime minister Taavi Rõivas.

Mr Evestus demanded that Mr Kattai be declared guilty of attack against the life of a high public official and asked that the court punish him with six months of imprisonment of which one would be spent physically behind bars. The prosecutor thinks the rest could be conditional with three years of probation.

Mr Evestus said Mr Kattai by his actions brought a sense of danger on Taavi Rõivas, who felt fear resulting from that. According to the prosecutor, the accused has failed to show remorse at court sessions; thus, the penalty ought to be such as to make him realise the behaviour is unacceptable.

Defence counsel Henrik Kirsimäe said posts by Mr Kattai in social media pose no direct threat, as claimed by the accuser. He said the charges are based on insufficient statements by witnesses. The counsel asked that the court acquit Martin Kattai and terminate the criminal proceeding.

As accused, Mr Kattai waived the right to say his last word, stating he had nothing to add. Before the session started, Mr Kattai also refused to comment to journalists.

The prosecutor Mr Evestus told the court of how Mr Kattai made a total of five threats addressed to prime minister Taavi Rõivas. The first he posted to then Reform Party secretary-general Martin Kukk from his Facebook account, and the rest were on his public Facebook profile.

Last September 4th , Mr Kattai wrote Martin Kukk the following: «We will stop when refugees will not arrive in Estonia /.../ Will probably kill Rõivas. I spared his life in Nõmme. I don’t want to be in this situation, but I am. Revenge is not in words. Martin Kukk, I’m leaving you out of the circle of targets for now. Greetings to Reform Party police, we will kill you all.»

On September 25th, Mr Kattai posted the following on his Facebook wall: «Home of Taavi Rõivas it on /…/ street. You turn up from Tehnika Street, it’s like 3rd house to the right…».

On October 4th Mr Kattai added this: «Because of that, I wish to share some operative information regarding our prime minister. I am adding a picture of his home in Tallinn on /…/ street. While moving about, Mr Rõivas is continually accompanied by two security guys, in traffic he moves in a two car motorcade, he rides in Audi, followed by a jeep with personal protection service.

The motorcade is recognisable in that unlike other cars in traffic, they keep a specific distance (3 metres). In my estimation, the distance is stupid in case of RPG for instance, but okay. When Rõivas is home, a police patrol car stands in front of his house. Be careful with foolishness near house as it’s front is guarded by 360 camera. The other camera is directed into the yard…».

Prosecutor Mr Evestus cites this as crime against high official punished by imprisonment up to five years.

«Mr Kattai has used psychic violence and this can be treated as an act of violence. Punishment for such act of violence is only acceptable when the victim really thought his life was threatened. The feeling of fear may not be due to mere imagination,» said Mr Evestus.

Testifying in court last Friday, prime minister Taavi Rõivas said he felt both threatened and frightened by the behaviour of the accused. According to Mr Rõivas, he had reason to believe Mr Kattai may have worse intentions.

Mr Evestus added that security camera recordings reveal Mr Kattai driving to the residence of Mr Rõivas and taking a picture of the house. Another recording shows Mr Kattai filming movement of Mr Rõivas and his escort.

Police confiscated a bayonet found in Mr Kattai’s car which is prohibited in civilian use and to own which he had no licence. «The accused has never substantiated ownership of the cut-and-thrust weapon. Though Mr Kattai took no actual steps to attack prime minister, he had a means with which he might have done it,» said Mr Evestus.

Personally, Mr Kattai has explained that the government is pursuing an unacceptable refugee policy and he holds the prime minister as responsible.

Defending Mr Kattai, counsel Henrik Kirsimäe said at court that it cannot definitely be claimed that Mr Kattai intensively acted to monitor the prime minister. He said his defendant drove through the prime minister’s home street to avoid traffic jams.

As for the rusty bayonet found in Mr Kattai’s car has no relevance to this criminal case, as in accusations this is in no way linked to the threats.  

«Hopefully, the court is not acting according to guidelines and assessments by prime minister, as one regrettably gets the impression that such guidelines have been issued by the prime minister,» said the lawyer. He added that the charges are unfounded and the criminal proceeding should be terminated.

At the court session, Mr Kattai did not plead guilty. The court verdict regarding Martin Kattai is due on June 14th.