Members of the passport mafia stand trial

Piret Lakson
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Members of the so-called passport mafia stood trial again in Tallinn yesterday ten of whom opted for agreement process, while another case was closed due to lack of interest to prosecute. The case of the woman who ran the criminal organization will be heard in general procedure.

Ten people had taken their places on the accused bench in Harju County Court, accused, among other things, of belonging to a criminal organization and accepting of bribes. There was also a woman accused of misuse of an important document. Her case was closed due to lack of interest to prosecute.

Postimees has previously written that the sides, the Office of the Prosecutor General and defenders of the accused, are holding talks to solve the criminal case in agreement process. Yesterday's court session revealed that agreements have been reached regarding the majority of the accused.

Procedural hindrances meant that an agreement was not reached in the case of the leader of the criminal grouping Ljubof Genrihson (65) who was not present in court. The court will continue to hear her case in general procedure.

Fraud pursued for years

Public prosecutor Steven-Hristo Evestus said that because Genrihson is accused of running a criminal organization, the prosecution believes she should be handed a more severe punishment than others.

The police apprehended the suspects in October of 2015. They were suspected of creating means for illegally obtaining official state documents, while eleven of them were also suspected of belonging to a criminal grouping.

Investigation materials suggest clients got access to state documents, including certificates of education, language examination results, residence permits, documents that serve as basis for citizenship, as well as medical certificates through the suspects. Methods used to achieve this included forgery, presentation of false data, and accomplices acting under false identities.

The group, made up primarily of women, engaged in document fraud for years. The scheme was managed by Genrihson who had no prior punishments and who now stands trial for creating and running a criminal organization, repeated counts of bribery, authorizing the use of an important falsified document, falsification and misuse of documents, as well as fraud.

Banned to work in the field

The group included four employees of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) two of whom worked at the service desk in Tallinn, one at the service center of the Northern Prefecture's citizenship and migration bureau, and one at the information management department of the police headquarters.

Evestus sought for them a five year sentence with the maximum five year probation period of which two months would have to be served in agreement process. The women would be banned from working in the field of citizenship and migration for three years and ordered to return sums deriving from crime.

Evestus said that the prosecution prioritized shock imprisonment for people who had worked in public service and the obligation to return sums deriving from crime in agreement process. Seven people who were not employed by the PPA have been charged with belonging to a criminal group.

Harju County Court is set to pronounce its decision on February 6.