School shooter released on parole after serving half of sentence ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Rakvere courthouse.
Rakvere courthouse. Source:

Viru County Court is to release on parole a man who shot dead his teacher in 2014. The man, Vahur Ruut, now 19, was a minor, aged 15, when he murdered his teacher, at Paalalinna school in the town of Viljandi. Ruut has served half the nine-year sentence handed down to him.

The court, in Rakvere, Lääne-Viru County, ruled that Ruut be released on parole early, spokespeople said. No serious objections were raised either by the prison or the prosecutor's office at a court sitting, held at the beginning of May, when Ruut's early release was discussed, BNS reports.

The court ruling can however be appealed within 15 days. Spokespeople added that in any case those who commit a crime as a minor cannot serve a prison sentence lengthier than 10 years. Additionally, Estonian law permits an offender who has committed a first-degree crime as a minor to be released early if he or she has served at least half of the sentence.

Ruut had been serving a nine-year prison sentence for intentional killing and illegal handling of a firearm and ammunition.

On Oct. 27 2014, Ruut, then 15, used his father's own Amadeo ROSSI-851 handgun, taking nine rounds with him, to shoot and kill German-language teacher Ene Sarap. Six shots were fired, three of which hit the victim, at least one fatally.

The court emphasized that the punishment handed to Ruut has not been diminished or expunged, simply that he now has a probationary period that, if he passes successfully, will deem him conclusively released from serving the remainder of his sentence. The parole period runs until Oct. 27, 2023.

Terms of Ruut's parole include various behavioral control conditions as well as assigned duties. Committing any crime with intent during the parole period would constitute its violation, it is reported.

"Thus, Vahur Ruut must take the probationary period and the obligations accompanying it seriously," the court ruling stated.

His responsibilities during his parole include taking up employment or registering with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (Töötukassa) within two weeks of his release, psychiatric treatment where necessary and participation in therapy for a duration determined by the probation officer.

Courts take into account the circumstances of an offense, and the offender's personal situation and background when making a decision on early release.

In Ruut's case, the court found his family environment included particularly strict certain rules and responsibilities, including expectations that his grades in school be straight As. Corrective corporal punishment was also used in the home, it is reported, including in cases of bad grades or uncompleted homework assignment.

"As a result, there was an acceptance in the family that physical violence against fellow human beings is one option in resolving conflicts. According to the court, at the time of committing the crime, Ruut was a minor with an unformed view of the world, whose ability in self-control and adequacy in assessing his actions had stagnated. However, a lot of work has been done relating to family relationships during the imprisonment, and both parties have made efforts to change the situation," the court ruling continued.

Ruut's behavior in prison had also been positive throughout his sentence, it is reported.

"The court is convinced that in the case of Vahur Ruut, the special preventive aims of the punishment have been met and that more benefits from staying in prison longer and being isolated from society cannot be achieved in fulfilling the purpose of imprisonment. Early release has been initiated to enable prisoners who have behaved in a law-abiding manner in detention facilities to show that they are capable of living in a law-abiding manner while outside, as well," the court added.

Extra impetus for the early release was given by concerns that when the state retains in-depth control over Ruut's behavior, as it will down throughout the parole period, it disciplines a person substantially, the court said.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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