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Outlaws to be released from Harku

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PHOTO: Sander Ilvest

This week will mark the release of two detainees of the Harku Detention Center, one of whom is an ex-convict, Estonia has not managed to expel.

One of the persons to be released is a citizen of Mali their home country has failed to identify. The person arrived in Estonia by crossing the Russian border with other illegal immigrants from Mali. The country has not issued a necessary document for the person to be removed. Chief officer of the aliens service of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) Katrin Tammekun said that the man has given contradicting statements. Tammekun did not specify.

The other person to be released is Alexey Vronchenko who has spent more than eight years in prison in Estonia for raping his stepdaughter.

The PPA refused to issue him a residence permit pursuant to the aliens act, according to which if “an alien has been convicted of a crime and sentenced to more than one year in prison and the criminal record has not been expunged” a residence permit can be refused.

The police have spent 18 months trying to expel Russian citizen Vronchenko; however, Russia refuses to accept him.

“I cannot speak as to the specific reason they have refused to document the person,” Tammekun said. The PPA needs a valid identification document in order to expel persons - a passport, other kind of traveling document, or a document of return issued by the receiving country.

The maximum period a person can be detained at the center is 18 months. There will be no more legal grounds for keeping Vronchenko at the center from September 4.

At the same time, the two men do not have the right to stay in Estonia. They will become outlaws, similarly to what happened to four Africans last spring. It was impossible to send them back home as the PPA did not manage to identify them. Three men from New Guinea and one from the Ivory Coast initially moved to the Tallinn homeless shelter. They spent their days roaming the city, ate at soup kitchens, and went back to the shelter for the night. The Africans initially checked in with the PPA but disappeared from the authorities’ radar soon after. By today, all except the man from Ivory Coast have left Estonia.

Asked whether Vronchenko could commit new crimes if released, Tammekun said: “Considering the fact he has served his time, he now has the opportunity to prove he is a law-abiding person; however, I would not rule it out.”

Postimees spoke to Vronchenko over the phone in May. He said that the stepdaughter he was convicted of raping is awaiting his release.

Vronchenko considers Estonia his home. “I was born in Russia; I was brought to Estonia from an orphanage when I was four. My foster parents brought me to Estonia,” he said. “I have lived here for all my 37 years!”

Vronchenko regrets taking Russian citizenship. “I did it because my in-laws lived in Russia. Because they were elderly people, I did not need a visa to travel there and help them as a Russian citizen,” he explained.

Vronchenko plans to stay in Estonia. “My family is here, my children. I live for them, and not for myself. The children come to meet me here, they call and write,” he said.

The man was placed in the detention center right after his release from prison in March of last year. Vronchenko last had a residence permit in 2003-2008. “He filed for a new permit which the PPA turned down. The agency also refused to review his application in 2013 and 2016,” Tammekun said.

Harju County Court found Vronchenko guilty of physical abuse and rape of his 9-year-old stepdaughter. Vronchenko was found to have had vaginal and oral intercourse with the incapable child on repeated occasions from the summer of 2006 to December of 2008.

The circuit court upheld the first instance ruling, while the Supreme Court did not accept the appeal.

Vronchenko filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights that ordered compensation of €5,200 paid to him. The court found that Vronchenko’s trial was not fair as his defender was not allowed to question the victim. The girl’s statements constituted the only direct evidence against Vronchenko.

The Estonian judicial system found the ECHR ruling was not sufficient grounds for a mistrial as the courts had enough circumstantial evidence for a conviction.

Vronchenko claims he spent eight years and three months in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He alleges that even his stepdaughter now says so.

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