Russian Cleric Gets 3 Years for Fatal Crash in Luxury SUV

MOSCOW, June 25 (RIA Novosti) – A Russian Orthodox cleric was sentenced to three years behind bars on Tuesday for causing a severe car accident in which two people died, a correspondent for the RAPSI legal news service reported from the courtroom.

According to investigators, Pavel Syomin, a priest and monk ordained as Hieromonk Iliya, lost control of his luxury Mercedes G-Class SUV on August 15, 2012, and mowed down three workers on a roadside, killing two of them.

His vehicle, which sells new in Moscow for upwards of $120,000, then crashed through a fence, collided with a parked minibus and hit a passing-by Skoda car, causing both the SUV and the Skoda to flip over.

Syomin admitted to violating traffic rules, but denied that his car hit the workers. The cleric was found guilty of a severe violation of traffic rules, causing the death of two or more persons.

The court also partially upheld civil lawsuits against Syomin, awarding more than $1.5 million rubles ($45,000) in compensation to seven plaintiffs, including 500,000 rubles ($15,000) to each of the two widows.

Prosecutors had sought a six-year sentence for Syomin, while the defense team requested two years in a minimum security prison.


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