Estonia cop convicted over youth worker prostitution tip-off

An Estonian ex-policewoman was slapped with a hefty fine on Tuesday for disclosing the checkered past of a children's shelter employee to its director, according to the court and local media.

The Tallinn court found Alice Jarvet, 38, guilty of breaching privacy laws for the tip-off, which according to local media revealed the employee had worked as a prostitute and taken her underage sister to work at a brothel.

Jarvet was fired from her job as a police investigator of financial crimes after a criminal probe was launched into her tip-off in 2009, while shelter director Erki Korp quit in 2011.

The affair has attracted widespread attention in the small Baltic nation, with some people arguing that youth workers require clean pasts and others insisting on second chances.

While still an officer, Jarvet used a police database to run a background check on the unnamed shelter employee whom Korp -- Jarvet's partner at the time -- had hired to work with troubled youth.

The court ruled on Tuesday that Jarvet broke a law forbidding state officials from revealing to third parties information they glean through work.

It ordered Jarvet to pay a 9,400-euro ($12,000) fine and 6,500 euros in legal costs -- totalling more than the average annual salary -- and banned her from police work for three years.

"As far as I know, the female employee in question was not forced to leave her job, but she is no longer working at the shelter," current director Priit Siig told AFP Tuesday.

"In a similar case I would be interested to learn the background of our employees but at the same time I admit that people can change and can be given a second chance," he said.

He added that to his knowledge the former youth worker had not exhibited any questionable behaviour while on the job.

Estonia, a Baltic nation of 1.3 million people, joined the European Union and NATO in 2004.