Estonian war figure laid to rest

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Arnold Meri, a Soviet war hero put on trial in his native Estonia over his role in Stalin-era deportations, has been buried in Tallinn.

Mr Meri, who suffered from ill-health, died on Friday at the age of 89 while judicial proceedings against him were still in progress.

He denied the charge of "genocide" but admitted playing a part in the deportation of 251 civilians in 1949.

Estonia's contention that genocide took place is not widely accepted.

He was the last surviving Estonian to have been awarded the USSR's top military decoration in World War II, the Gold Star, and a cousin of Estonia's first post-independence president, the late Lennart Meri.

Arnold Meri had argued that the charges brought against him in August 2007 were politically motivated because of his opposition to the government and his involvement in anti-fascist work.

Russia, long locked in a dispute with Estonia over the Soviet legacy, awarded him its Order of Honour posthumously within hours of his death.

He was laid to rest on Wednesday in a cemetery on the outskirts of the Estonian capital where members of his immediate family are also buried.

Several hundred people are said to have attended the funeral, which was conducted without military trappings.

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