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Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 15:06 GMT
Russian diplomat jailed for crash death
Andrei Knyazev
Knyazev had been stopped twice before for drink-driving
A former Russian diplomat has been jailed for four years in Moscow for killing a woman in a drink-driving crash in Canada.

Andrei Knyazev, a first secretary at the Russian embassy, had claimed diplomatic immunity after the crash in Ottawa.

Russia refused Canadian demands to revoke his immunity. But he was recalled to Moscow, where the authorities held their own investigation and decided to charge him.


Justice has been done and it will be easier now for the families

Rod Irwin
Canadian ambassador
It emerged after the crash that Knyazev had been stopped twice before, but police had been unable to pursue any charges.

The crash happened as Knyazev was returning from an ice-fishing party in January 2001.

He lost control of his car and mounted the pavement, killing 50-year-old lawyer Catherine McLean, and severely injuring her friend, Catherine Dore, 56.

Knyazev, who denied the charges in court, refused to be breathalysed by the Canadian police. He insists that he was not drunk, blaming the crash on poor weather.

Appeal planned

The prosecution in Moscow had asked for the maximum five-year sentence. Knyazev will also be banned from driving for three years after his release.

At the time of the crash, Knyazev was the third most senior diplomat at the Russian embassy in Ottawa.

His lawyer, Andrei Pavlov, said he would appeal against the verdict.

The Canadian ambassador in Moscow, Rod Irwin, said he was satisfied with the verdict.

"Justice has been done and it will be easier now for the families [of the victims]," he was quoted as saying by the RIA news agency.

See also:

30 Jan 01 | Americas
Russian ducks Canadian justice
17 Dec 00 | Americas
Putin seeks Canadian investment
28 Oct 98 | e-cyclopedia
So what are diplomats immune to?
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