Convicted serial killer Yuri Ustimenko, who is currently serving a life sentence in Tartu Prison, wishes to continue serving his sentence in his native Russia and has entered into procedural battle with Estonia's Ministry of Justice.
On 20 November 2014, Ustimenko filed an application seeking to be transferred to Russia to serve out his life sentence, which the Ministry of Justice rejected on 18 May, 2016. According to the rationale of the decision, the appellant had committed exceptionally serious crimes. Tartu Prison's assessment of the prisoner's service of his sentence was also a very important aspect, indicating that Ustimenko's behaviour in prison was aggressive and he was committing new violations leading to criminal proceedings.
The Ministry of Justice added that based on legislation applicable in Estonia, in the case of life sentences, the court may release the prisoner on parole if the offender has served at least 30 years of their sentence. In Russia, however, the minimum number of years to be served before becoming eligible for parole is 20.
Ustimenko contested the ministry's refusal, but Tartu Administrative Court on 17 March ruled in favor of the Ministry of Justice. In April 2017, however, Ustimenko won in Tartu Circuit Court, as the appeals court ruled that the Ministry of Justice must re-review Ustimenko's application.
Following the circuit court's ruling, the Ministry of Justice filed an appeal in cassation with the Supreme Court of Estonia which resulted in certain changes to the circuit court's decision, but the decision otherwise remained in force, and the Ministry of Justice must re-review Ustimenko's application.
Six dead in 2002
Yuri Ustimenko is a Russian national and former naval cadet sentenced to life in prison in Estonia in 2004 for the murder of five people in Estonia and one in Latvia and the attempted murder of two people in Estonia together with fellow Russian national Dmitry Medvedev. Altogether seven people lost their lives and six were injured as a result of Utsimenko and Medvedev's killing spree, which began after the duo illegally entered Estonia from Russia and lasted from March through May of 2002.
In early May 2002, Ustimenko and Medvedev fled to Latvia, where Medvedev was killed by Latvian police in a shootout from which Ustimenko managed to escape. Ustimenko was eventually captured in the Polish border town of Suwalki and extradited to Estonia, where he was sentenced to life in prison in March 2004.
In 2010, Ustimenko sought a pardon from the President of Estonia. The request was rejected.
Editor: Aili Vahtla