Metropol shooter a criminal rogue

Kriminalistid uurimistoiminguid tegemas Tallinnas Metropoli hotellis pärast tulistamist 2. veebruaril.

PHOTO: Sander Ilvest

Paata Sakhokia is a criminal figure with a Georgian background who has recently made it to the top of Estonia's most wanted list. He is wanted by both the criminal police and the local criminal underground that branded Sakhokia a rogue through an act of payback carried out in Männiku five years ago.

Paata Sakhokia.

PHOTO: arhiiv

 The reason for Sakhokia's official wanted status is known to the public as the incident in the Metropol hotel on February 2 when he shot his former superior in the leg after an argument. The restaurant shooting was the result of several overlapping circumstances when former fellow gang members happened to be dining at the same establishment.

One of the participants was the right hand man of ambitious underground figure Ahmed Ozdojev, Igor (45). He was being given looks by Paata, who had only recently been Igor's subordinate.

Violent lesson

A mere six months before, Ahmed's group had managed to fall out with Georgian „thief in law“ Dato Svan the gang had invited to Estonia to demonstrate its connections. Svan left Estonia as abruptly as her had arrived and left Ahmed's men to sort out the details.

Paata took the side of his countryman. Coming face-to-face with men who felt otherwise in the hotel, things quickly heated past the boiling point. Paata only had enough time to approach Igor's table and give him a few choice words before he was assaulted.

Sakhokia was soon overpowered in the ensuing fight that made use of the restaurant's furniture. Getting desperate, the Georgian reached for his gun and shot Igor in the leg. Probably to save himself, it is now believed.

Igor, who sustained a flesh wound, took cover behind the bar that allowed Sakhokia to escape. The man clearly did not plan to kill his adversary. A month later, Paata is still on the run, and it is probable he has left Estonia. It was the second time he clashed head on with the local criminal world.

Exactly five years ago, Paata was hanging onto dear life in Männiku after having been taught a violent lesson by organized crime enforcers. The incident that also ended up in court is a telling example of how the parallel world of organized crime handles its affairs.

Paata Sakhokia's name is unknown to the ordinary person. The Tartu criminal only shows up once in official records in a court decision from a case where he tried to sell a BMW he had stolen back to its original owner for 17,500 Estonian kroons.

Having found Tartu too small for his ambitions, Paata moved to the capital. He was taken in by the infamous Kemerovo group known for its violent character.

Paata soon found himself on the losing side of a „strelka“ or a fight between rivaling gangs. While criminal groups usually back up their members, the Kemerovo gang turned its back on Paata. The Georgian then set about publicly badmouthing his former comrades. The answer came shift and merciless.

The parking lot of the Kristiine shopping center in Tallinn, 6:38 p.m. on February 29, 2012. Paata Sakhokia was walking up to his Mercedes when the door of a Renault Trafic van parked nearby swung open and several men wearing black masks jumped out, yelled in Russian: “Police! Any weapons, narcotics?”, shoved Paata into the van, and drove off.

Paata realized the men were not police officers when they continued to beat and abuse him in Russian once in the van. The victim had a hat pulled over his head and his hands and feet tied, after which the men proceeded to beat him with metal sticks while he lied on the floor of the van.

The drive ended an hour and a half later in Männiku when the five attackers pushed Paata out of the van, cut loose his legs, relieved him of his €200 watch, and told him he would have to leave Estonia as he was now a rogue.

Sakhokia, who had slipped out of consciousness for a time during the beating, made his way to a nearby Ruukki industrial complex, knocked on the glass door, and asked for help. The workers called both an ambulance and the police upon seeing a bloody man with his hands tied.

Depriving someone of their liberty and taking them to the woods is clearly an extraordinary crime. Paata's case was given to the best and the brightest at the criminal police. The man himself said he had no idea who could be behind the attack.

The police found a cigarette bud some 150 meters from the scene of the crime DNA recovered from which belonged to known perpetrator of violent crimes Andrei Koroljov.

The prosecution lost

It turned out that Koroljov had rented a van on the morning of February 29 the GPS tracking data of which put it in the parking lot of the shopping center at the time Paata was taken.

This constituted a second piece of evidence, and Koroljov was brought in.

The icing on the cake was DNA of Mihhail Kalašnikov recovered from Paata's jacket. Kalašnikov had been known as the leader of organized crime enforcers for decades. He told detectives he didn't know Paata, before being taken into custody for months.

The trial ended in a rare defeat for the public prosecutor's office in the spring of 2014. Paata and Kalašnikov said in court they knew each other and had embraced, which explained Kalašnikov's DNS on Sakhokia's jacket. Kalašnikov was found not guilty and the state ordered to pay him compensation for 80 days spent under arrest.

Koroljov was the only person convicted of deprivation of liberty and handed an 18 month sentence. He has been released by now. The other three attackers were never identified, while Paata Sakhokia became a member of Ingushian Ahmed's Ozdojev's gang. This made it possible for him to stay in Estonia. At least for a time.