August Kolk was born in 1924. In March 1949, he was an investigator in the Ministry of National Security of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic. At that time, he participated in the preparation of the deportation operation called “Priboi” and drew up documents concerning the deportation of ten families.
He drafted proposals for the deportation of 27 persons. After the deportation operation had been carried out on 25 March 1949, he drew up further documents related to this deportation order.
The civilians involved were deported from the occupied Republic of Estonia to remote areas of the Soviet Union.
On 10 October 2003, August Kolk was convicted of crimes against humanity under Article 61-1 § 1 of the Criminal Code (Kriminaalkoodeks) by the Saare County Court (Saare Maakohus).
He was sentenced to eight years’ suspended imprisonment with a probation period of three years.
An appeal was lodged against the verdict, but on 27 January 2004 the Tallinn Court of Appeal upheld the judgment of the County Court.
On 21 April 2004 the Supreme Court refused Kolk’s leave to appeal.
The case was then brought before the European Court of Human Rights, on the basis that the sentence was contrary to the prohibition of retroactive application of criminal laws and thus in breach of Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
On 17 January 2006, the European Court of Human Rights declared the application inadmissible, noting that even if the acts committed by August Kolk could have been regarded as lawful under the Soviet law at that time, the Estonian courts delivered a finding that they nevertheless constituted crimes against humanity under international law at the time of their commission.
The Court could find no reason to call into question this ruling of the Estonian Court.