Viru County Court has sentenced a driver who rammed a border checkpoint gates in the eastern town of Narva to three months' prison. The offender, a Russian citizen, was not deported, however. The driver had made an illegal border crossing at speed through closed border gates on to Estonian territory on Sunday. While a maximum sentence of a year in prison was permissible, the individual's mental state was taken into account when sentencing.
The 49-year-old, Antoli Bogdanov, was convicted for the illegal crossing of a temporary control line of the Republic of Estonia via a fast-tracked settlement procedure at Viru County Court in Jõhvi on Monday. He was sentenced to prison for three months.
According to the charge sheet, on March 1, a Mitsubishi Pajero was driven at speed through the folding gate at Narva's border checkpoint.
A sentence of up to a year of prison time for the illegal crossing of the border would have been possible.
Assistant prosecutor at Viru Circuit Marina Zagorets said that the prosecution considered the fact that the criminal is a Russin citizen when imposing the sentence.
"The aim of his actions weren't directly to ignore orders by officials and to penetrate the Estonian territory, it happened due to his mental state," the assistant prosecutor Zagorets explained.
Plans to stay in Estonia
Bogdanov also called the police himself after his cross-border excursion, and says he intends to remain in the country after being released.
"[I had] serious psychological stress, I just couldn't take it. I didn't have a clear plan. When I saw the sign 'Narva', I understood that it's Estonia. I didn't have any documents with me. And I just drove on and on," Bogdanov said in court.
"I crossed the border; I understood that it is in Estonia. It was night time and there was nobody on the streets. I drove for several blocks, got out, stopped a taxi, said that I had illegally crossed the border and asked him to call the police. The patrol arrived and they arrested me," Bogdanov added.
Bogdanov says he also plans to stay in Estonia and learn the language following his prison sentence ending.
"I am not going back," Bogdanov said.
"If I had the right to choose between euthanasia and Russia, I would choose the latter. I feel more secure when the Estonian police is on my back rather than the Russian police," he continued.
The sentence will commence from the date of his detention, i.e. March 1.
The defendant needs to pay €506 in costs following the proceedings. The court decision hasn't come into force, ERR reports.
Editor: Roberta Vaino