TALLINN – The Supreme Court of Estonia has overturned the acquittal of Vjatseslav Kalasnikov, a driver who participated in the illegal street racing challenge that resulted in the death of three people on Laagna Road in Tallinn in June 2020, on the grounds that Kalasnikov can be held accountable for his action under misdemeanor proceedings.
The criminal chamber of the Supreme Court agreed with the circuit court that although Kalasnikov violated traffic regulations and thereby set an extremely deplorable example for Isa Khalilov, it is Khalilov who is legally responsible for the consequences of the accident, which he caused directly with his driving.
"On the basis of the facts established in this case, the consequences of the traffic accident described in the indictment cannot be attributed to Kalasnikov and Kalasnikov found guilty of the crime," the top court noted.
The Supreme Court pointed out, however, that Kalasnikov may have committed a misdemeanor by exceeding the speed limit and disregarding other traffic rules on the way to the accident site.
"However, the court cannot itself find the accused guilty of a misdemeanor as a result of criminal proceedings, but the out-of-court proceedings authority, the police, must first take a position on the matter," the Supreme Court found.
Resolving the case, the courts established that Khalilov and Kalasnikov, driving a BMW X5 and a Chevrolet Camaro, respectively, accelerated to speeds of almost 200 kilometers per hour when driving from the Tallinn city center towards Lasnamae on the evening of June 20, 2020. Kalasnikov, whose car mostly moved in front, gave Khalilov, as the driver following him, an example of driving style and speed, according to the courts.
On Laagna Road, near the Mustakivi bridge, Khalilov's car hit a slower moving vehicle from the rear, triggering a chain of collisions in which three people were killed and a fourth person was seriously injured.
The Tallinn-based Harju County Court on May 24 last year handed Khalilov a 10-year prison sentence and Kalasnikov a three-year prison sentence.
Following an appeal, the Tallinn circuit upheld the sentence for Khalilov but acquitted Kalasnikov, finding that his actions did not have the causal link to the death of the victims or serious damage to their health required by the Penal Code. Kalasnikov was not involved in the traffic accident.
In its conclusion, the circuit court found that such incitement of another person to commit a criminal offense is punishable as a criminal offense only under the conditions provided for in the Penal Code. However, none of the legal bases provided for in the Penal Code came into question, as they all presuppose intent, but the crime Khalilov and Kalasnikov were accused of was committed through negligence.
The Supreme Court did not consider an appeal filed by Khalilov's attorney, but handled the prosecutor's appeal against the acquittal of Kalasnikov.