The Minister of Justice Rein Lang replied to the interpellation concerning the activities of the Prosecutor’s Office and supervision of the Prosecutor’s Office (No 114), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Karel Rüütli, Ester Tuiksoo, Aleksei Lotman, Marek Strandberg, Mart Jüssi, Ain Seppik, Kalle Laanet, Toivo Tootsen, Kalev Kallo, Aivar Riisalu, Tiit Kuusmik, Vladimir Velman, Vilja Savisaar, Toomas Varek, Nelli Privalova, Tarmo Mänd, Villu Reiljan and Mai Treial on 16 December 2008.
In Lang’s words, the objective of pre-trial procedure is to ensure that only the persons whose guilt can be proved by evidence are prosecuted. “The purpose of pre-trial procedure is not to stage a drama for the public, no matter whether it involves conducting of the proceedings on the suspicions concerning officials or not,” affirmed the Minister of Justice. He admitted that, on the other hand, some criminal matters did receive more extensive media coverage. In most cases, these are the proceedings which have attracted keen public interest and where the disclosure of a certain amount the information concerning the proceedings is justified above all by the need to explain the course of the procedures carried out by the state and to avoid speculations. “It is an exaggeration to claim that it is only and exclusively the Minister of Justice who holds the reins of the press life of criminal matters. The Minister of Justice exercises supervisory control over the Prosecutor’s Office but not over media publications, advocates or other participants in the proceedings. At the same time I am of the firm opinion which I have expressed on several occasions: the presumption of innocence must be respected,” said Lang. He added that whenever that principle was violated in the communication with the media in the area of administration of the Ministry of Justice, all such cases would be and indeed had been responded to. The concrete response depends on the circumstances of the violation and the guilt of the respective official.
Lang explained that, while giving an overview of the implementation of the development objectives of criminal policy about a year ago, he had stressed the obvious need for legislative changes in that sphere. A thoroughgoing draft of amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure has been prepared which aims to improve both the qualitative and quantitative aspect of criminal proceedings as well as to reduce the terms in proceedings. Lang promised that the draft would be presented to the Riigikogu already in the coming months.
The Minister of Justice also replied to the interpellation concerning the legal situation in Narva-Jõesuu (No 122), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Lembit Kaljuvee, Tiit Kuusmik, Jaak Aab, Aadu Must, Lauri Laasi, Valeri Korb, Mailis Reps and Evelyn Sepp on 15 January, and the interpellation concerning the alleged illegal activities of a public prosecutor (No 129), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Karel Rüütli, Mai Treial, Villu Reiljan, Tarmo Mänd and Ester Tuiksoo on 27 January.
The Riigikogu Press Service