Moscow Priest Pleads Guilty in Road Kill Case

MOSCOW, June 21 (RIA Novosti) – A young Orthodox priest, who has been charged with involuntary murder as a result of reckless driving, has admitted responsibility for the car accident that killed two people in Moscow last year, a lawyer for the victims said.

Hieromonk Ilya (Pavel Semin), 26, was behind the wheel of a luxury Mercedes G-Wagen, when it crashed into road works on the Kutuzovsky Prospekt in downtown Moscow on August 15, 2012, killing two road workers and injuring another. The vehicle then skidded off into the oncoming lane, where it hit a taxi, injuring its driver and passenger.

Semin fled the scene and surrendered to authorities only the next morning. He was arrested on August 17 and has been in pretrial detention since then.

According to lawyer Igor Trunov, Semin admitted responsibility for violating the traffic rules twice, and also told judges at the Drogomilovsky court during hearings on Thursday that regardless of the circumstances of the accident “everything happened because of him.”

The admission of guilt comes as a surprise because the young priest, known for his love for luxury cars and fast driving, has been reluctant to take responsibility for the accident.

Trunov, who was only recently hired by relatives of the victims to defend their interests in the trial, said the investigation has been marred by sloppy police work and apparent attempts by the defendant to bribe the surviving victim.

The case has caused massive public outcry in Russia and prompted Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia to urge Russian Orthodox clergy to avoid driving luxury cars and carefully observe traffic rules.


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