A senior European Commission official with Estonian citizenship has been sentenced to six years in prison for raping an employee, according to information from the Belgian newspaper La Libre Belgique, confirmed to AFP on Friday, informs Agerpres.
The Brussels Court of Appeal refused to imprison the accused after the conviction, and he, who denies rape, remains at large until his cassation appeal is examined, two lawyers involved in the case told AFP.
The events took place in 2015 in the offices of the European Commission in Brussels.
Margus Rahuoja, a 54-year-old Estonian director of the Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport, raped a French colleague 20 years her junior after a party in her department.
During the investigation, he always claimed that the young woman gave her consent, but his arguments were rejected by the judges in the two successive trials.
In the first instance, in February 2019, he was sentenced to four years in prison.
The Brussels court had already noted as an aggravating circumstance of the rape that the victim was working under his own responsibility as a legal assistant.
According to Cedric Vergauwen, the woman’s lawyer, the sentence was increased on appeal on September 23, due to the gravity of the facts, but also due to the attitude of the accused. “He flatly denied it and always talked about a consensual relationship,” the lawyer said.
“An appeal has been filed in cassation, which suspends the execution of the sentence,” said Romain Delcoigne, who defends Rahuoja.
The lawyer also confirmed that, following the decision of the Court of Appeal, the prosecutor’s office requested the immediate arrest of the convict, but the judges did not comply with the request.
The court stressed that Rahuoja always appeared at the hearings and ruled out any risk of evasion from justice.
The Estonian official will remain free until the Court of Cassation makes a final decision in this case, which is unlikely to happen before the beginning of 2022, according to lawyers.
According to La Libre Belgique, Margus Rahuoja kept his director’s salary of “over 14,000 euros” net per month, although he was suspended after the case came to light.
“His salary was only reduced for a few months,” Vergauwen told AFP, which Delcoigne could not comment on.
According to the EU institutions’ “Who is who” website, Rahuoja is still officially the “Senior Multimodality Adviser” at DG Mobility.