President Kaljulaid pardons man serving life sentence

President Kersti Kaljulaid has pardoned Anatoli Nikolajev, 64, who was sentenced to life in person for a quadruple murder 20 years ago.

Nikolajev had been sentenced to life in prison for an April 1998 quadruple murder that took place in an apartment located on Põhja Avenue in Kohtla-Järve.

Police found the bodies of Nikolajev's partner Jelena, 39, as well as Alla, 37 Andrei, 27, and Tatjana, 25, who was late into her pregnancy, in the apartment with bullet wounds. Police summoned Nikolajev to the scene, where he discovered the bodies in his apartment. According to Nikolajev, he had rented that apartment out, and his partner Jelena was using it as a place to sell drugs.

According to Nikolajev, the police coerced him into confessing to their murders, and while the prosecution declined to accuse him in court, the court nontheless sentenced him to life in prison.

Nikolajev may be innocent

In spring 2013, then-Eesti Ekspress journalist Janar Filippov referenced the possibility that Nikolajev was wrongfully convicted in his articles "This man did not kill my mother!" and "The Supreme Court justices' terrible lie."

Upon examining the materials of the case, Filippov reached the conclusion that Nikolajev was likely innocent, as there was actually no proof that he committed the crime.

Attorney Anti Aasma then attempted to take up Nikolajev's case in order to have it overturned and the man acquitted, however the court did not agree.

"This is without a doubt a progressive decision for Estonia and the only right thing to do from a rule fo law standpoint," Aasmaa told ERR regarding Kaljulaid's pardon. "I am proud of our president for putting an end to this uncertainty and longstanding dispute between various lawyers and members of society as well as bringing about legal certainty."

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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