Pärnu County Court found Juri Vorobei, 36, guilty of homicide for killing Nikolai Tarankov, 63. Tarankov was a powerful leader of organized crime groups in Estonia.
The court sentenced Vorobei to nine years and six months in prison. Prosecutor Vahur Verte had demanded seven years and nine months. Vorobei’s lawyer, Aadu Luberg, asked the court to consider that Vorobei had been under threat when he killed Tarankov.
The court found Vorobei guilty of homicide as well as the illegal possession of a firearm as well as a night-vision sight. For the combined offenses Vorobei was sentenced to nine years and six months in prison.
Vorobei pleaded guilty as charged. In his statement, he said that he regretted having committed the crime.
According to the statement of charges submitted by the prosecutor, Vorobei shot Tarankov on Sept. 13, 2016, in Saunja in Lääne County in the heat of an argument.
Tarankov was fishing on Saunja bay on that day. According to Vorobei, the argument concerned a guarantee he had given to a businessman as the son of an acquaintance of Tarankov’s, but without getting his permission first.
As Vorobei felt that his family would be in danger over the disagreement with Tarankov, he shot him seven times into the body and head. Tarankov died on the scene of the shooting.
The court found that Vorobei had acquired a weapon illegally, and had taken a close look at the place before he committed the crime. To be sure that Tarankov was dead, he fired the last shot in the victim’s head. This, according to the court, demonstrated that Vorobei was determined and had weighed his options before committing the crime.
Vorobei left the scene, but remembered that he had left his cap there. He went back and got his cap, and also placed Tarankov’s body in the victim’s SUV.
Eventually leaving the scene, Vorobei buried the gun he used to shot Tarankov in the village of Keedika. From there, he drove to Tallinn, where he disposed of his blood-stained clothing.
The Central Criminal Police arrested Vorobei in Tallinn on Sept. 22. Vorobei showed the police where he had hidden the gun on the same day.
According to police major Ago Leis, Vorobei acted determinedly, but alone. The investigation had not led to any other suspects, or anyone else involved in the crime.
The court considered extenuating circumstances, including that Vorobei had acted under threat. In addition to the prison sentence, Vorobei will also have to pay procedural costs in the amount of €6,904.
Tarankov had been considered the leading figure of organized crime in Estonia since the 1990s.
Editor: Dario Cavegn