Supreme Court upholds Tallinn fatal accident acquittal

Supreme Court building in Tartu.
Supreme Court building in Tartu. Source: Supreme Court of Estonia

The Supreme Court has upheld the acquittal from criminal charge of a driver involved in a fatal accident which took place on Laagna tee in Tallinn in June 2020. The court has left the matter open as to whether the driver is guilty of a misdemeanor offense, in encouraging another driver he was racing at the time and who caused the accident and whose criminal indictment remains in place.

Supreme Court spokesperson Iris Raudsik said the accused, Vjatšeslav Kalašnikov: "Mostly moved ahead, and set an example for [Isa] Khalilov, who mimicked his driving style and speed," said Raudsik.

The high-speed chase ended in Khalilov rear-ending a slower-moving vehicle on Laagna tee, triggering a chain reaction of accidents which resulted in three fatalities and one serious injury.

"Based on the circumstances established in the current case, the consequences of the traffic accident as charged in the indictment cannot be attributed to Kalašnikov and he cannot be found guilty of the crime," said Raudsik. 

At the same time, the Supreme Court noted that Kalašnikov may be guilty of a misdemeanor offense in exceeding the permitted driving speed and ignoring other traffic regulations leading up to the accident site. 

However, the court itself cannot find the accused guilty or not-guilty of a misdemeanor resulting from criminal proceedings; the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) would first need to take a position on this.

Following the accident, on the evening of June 20 2020, the first-tier Harju County Court found Khalilov guilty of a traffic crime, sentencing him to ten years in prison. 

However, Kalašnikov who as noted was not directly involved in the accident was found guilty of causing death and serious injury by negligence and was sentenced to three years in prison.

The pair had raced each other from the city center towards Lasnamäe, reaching speeds as high as 200km/h. Laagna tee's speed limit is no higher than 70 km/h at any point.

On appeal the second-tier Tallinn District Court left the county court ruling in respect of Khalilov in place, but acquitted Kalašnikov.

Similarly, the Supreme Court did not hear Khalilov's appeal, but its criminal panel heard an appeal on his acquittal, from the Prosecutor's Office, but upheld the district court ruling, as noted leaving the matter open as to whether he should be charged with a misdemeanor offense.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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