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Road police lose video of car crash involving Orthodox priest

September 12, 2012, 15:47 UTC+3
The video files from the dashboard camera were destroyed by a computer virus attack
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MOSCOW, September 12 (Itar-Tass) — Road police were unable to show the video recording of the car crash involving father superior Timofei /Alexei Podobedov/ of the Elijah the Prophet Church in Obydensky Lane. The video had been requested by the magistrate who is reviewing the case.

The cleric is accused of violating Article 12.26 of the Code of administrative offenses /refusing to meet the requirement to undergo an alcotest/. The penalty is suspension of driving license for up to two years, a 5,000-rouble fine and up to 15 days of administrative arrest.

The review was postponed three times. The latest delay occurred as the magistrate requested to see the video of the crash, following discrepancies in the testimony of an eye-witness and the priest. The recording was made by a road police officer who went to the car crash scene.

On Wednesday, judge Olga Lebentsova read an answer from the 6th road police department which stated that "the video files from the dashboard camera were destroyed by a computer virus attack."

At the defence’s request, an eye-witness for the defence was questioned. Igor Belyakov told the court he had come to the car crash scene after Father Timofei had phoned him. "He was on the bonnet of the road police car and he stayed there until the owner of the BMW turned up. The priest walked steadily. I talked with the father superior two hours before the road accident; he was sober but complained about health problems," Belyakov said.

After the testimony, the priest's defence asked the court to drop the administrative case due to a lack of corpus delicti.

Mass media outlets reported the cleric had been involved in a road accident on the central Moscow ring road when a BMW with diplomatic corps license plates driven by Podobedov collided with two cars, one of which was moving in an incoming lane. The cleric refused to take an alcohol test on which police were insisting. Subsequent reports said the Russian Orthodox Church suspended the cleric for the period of the investigation.

At the previous hearing, Podobedov's lawyers presented to the court the medical documents certifying that there had been no alcohol in his blood at the time of the road accident, but the court did not attach them to the case materials.

"Alexei Podobedov disagrees with the charges," his lawyer Vyacheslav Podoprigora said earlier.

The cleric reiterated at the hearing that he was innocent and that he was absolutely sober at the movement of the road accident. He claimed a Volkswagen Touareg driver cut him in and Podobedov therefore had to break hard. Speaking about his condition on that evening, the priest noted that after the double strike he felt sick and that his head was spinning.

He explained that the BMW he had driven did not belong to him, and that he had borrowed it.

The defendant acknowledged his signature on one protocol drawn by road police, and said his signature on other documents had been faked.

As the judge was reading the case materials, it turned out that Podobedov had been repeatedly fined for speeding.

Eye-witness Vyacheslav Zakharov said he had seen Podobedov's BMW ramming a Volkswagen Touareg. The impact threw the car into an incoming lane where it collided with a Toyota Corolla. The eye-witness said after he had testified as a witness, a woman phoned him to accuse him of false testimony.

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