Court annuls building title issued to top lawyer Viktor Kaasik

20.01.2004, 12:01

The court has annulled the building title issued by the Joelahtme municipality to Viktor Kaasik for his waterfront villa.

According to the ruling- the building title had been issued in violation of the coastal and shore protection act which prohibits building residential houses closer to the sea than 100 metres.

Head of the Joelahtme municipality that issue the title for one of Estonia's richest businessman said that the whole case was a political process.

"It has been political from the time when the then minister of environmental affairs refused to reduce the no-building zone-" said the official.

Kaasik himself who has become one of Estonia's biggest real estate businessmen- said that the whole dispute was a nonsense. "Anyway it is a dispute between the municipality and the ministry of environment which does not concern me in any way."

Last year Pärnu administrative court made a landmark ruling in which it declared illegal a building built in the so-called shore protection zone.

The ruling is bad news for such millionaires as Anatoli Kanajev and top lawyer Viktor Kaasik who built their villas close to the seashore and may now be forced to demolish them.

The environmental inspectorate has filed a lawsuit against the municipality which allowed Kanajev and Kaasik to build their vast villas on the very waterfront without proper detailed plans.

Environment inspectorate has filed a lawsuit demanding that seaside villas of oil baron Anatoli Kanajev and attorney Viktor Kaasik in Haapse on the north coast are to be torn down.

Kanajev is one of the shareholders of Pakterminal- a large Estonian oil terminal in Port of Muuga.

If the court decides to cancel the building permits it would not automatically mean that both building will be torn down- but it would be possible.

Environmental inspectorate claims that the two men built their huge waterfront villas located in Haapse küla in northern Estonia closer to the sea than the statutory 100 metres.

The environmental inspectorate is claiming that the local council issued building titles illegally. "No building permits should have been granted since the building plan did not conform to the coastal protection law-" said Ain Purga- director general of the environmental inspectorate.

Local authorities of Joelahtme municipality which issued the building permits say that law had not been violated.

The local council issued building permits to Kaasik and Kanajev in 2002 although the building plan put the houses closer to the sea than 100 metres which is a no-building zone for Baltic sea coast. It is clear that the local council was aware that it was acting illegally since the minister of environmental affairs had informed the council that it would not grant an exception for the two houses already one month before.

"I agree that the building permit was issued preliminarily- but we have never had the case where the ministry had refused from reducing the no-building zone-" explained Taimi Saarma- head of local council. She added that there were several buildings which are located closer to the see than 100 metres.

In December 2002 the local council made another attempt to legalize the building permits and made a special request to the minister of environmental affairs- Heikki Kranich- who turned it down.

In spite of the ministry's refusal- the local council went ahead and approved the detailed building plan which includes a huge 55 metre berth. Last year Kanajev's business partner- Aadu Luukas- purchased an 18-metre motoryacht which cost over 1 million euros.

Kanajev who is one of Estonia's richest men bought the lot in Haapse from Viktor Kaasik. Eesti Ekspress claimed that Kaasik became owner of the valuable seaside property which should have been returned to his client- Yens-Martin Luther- heir of a rich industrialist who had extensive property in Estonia before World War II. Kaasik who represented Luther in the case did not succeed in winning the land back- suddenly became the owner of the same land.

Yens-Martin Luther has complained on Kaasik's unethical actions to the honours court of the Estonian Bar Association which has discussed the case four times and got nowhere.

Source: BBN