. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Knyazev Gets 4 Years for Fatal Canada Crash

APAndrei Knyazev smoking a cigarette Tuesday during a break in the reading of the verdict Tuesday. He plans to appeal the ruling.
Former Russian diplomat Andrei Knyazev was sentenced to four years in a low-security prison Tuesday for a car accident in Canada that killed a pedestrian and left another badly injured.

The Tverskoi district court said that Knyazev, a former first secretary at the Russian Embassy in Ottawa, would have his driver's license revoked for three years after he is released.

Knyazev's lawyer said he would appeal for a lighter sentence.

Relatives of the pedestrians and Canadian diplomats said after the trial that they were pleased with the verdict, which caps an incident that strained ties between Canada and Russia.

Knyazev, now 45, was returning from an ice-fishing trip in January 2001 when his Chrysler Cirrus lurched onto a sidewalk in an Ottawa suburb, killing civil lawyer Catherine MacLean, 50, and injuring her friend Catherine Dore. Canadian police said Knyazev appeared to be intoxicated.

Moscow refused to lift Knyazev's diplomatic immunity -- sparking outrage in Canada -- and promised to try him in Russia. Two days after the accident, Knyazev was dismissed from his post and brought home.

Moments after Judge Yelena Stashina read the verdict Tuesday, two police officers rushed into the courtroom, clamped handcuffs on a bewildered-looking Knyazev and whisked him away.

Knyazev, who was allowed to stay at home on a written promise not to leave Moscow, will now have to wait out further legal proceedings at the Krasnaya Presnya prison.

Knyazev's lawyer Andrei Pavlov did not attend Tuesday's hearing, which only consisted of the reading of the verdict. Closing arguments were made in the weeklong trial Friday.

Pavlov said later that he had been busy defending another client and that his presence had not been necessary.

Prosecutor Alexander Tikhonov, clearly delighted with the ruling, saw Pavlov's absence differently.

"Probably the lawyer didn't want to be near his client at the moment when the handcuffs were put on him," Tikhonov said.

He had asked the court to give Knyazev five years, the maximum punishment for the charge of a violation of traffic regulations that results in a death.

In Canada, Knyazev would have faced up to 20 years in prison, Tikhonov said.

Knyazev denied during the trial that he drank alcohol on the day he hit the two pedestrians.

However, prosecutors called several of Knyazev's former colleagues to testify that he had drunk whiskey at the ice-fishing party and had continued to smell of alcohol several hours after the accident.

Tikhonov also presented Canadian police records that showed Knyazev had been involved in four traffic accidents in two years, including the fatal 2001 crash. The records said Knyazev was intoxicated in two of the accidents.

Dore's husband, Phillipe, said he was satisfied with the ruling.

"The whole process was fair and the judge was unbiased and competent," he said. "And I appreciate the possibility to participate in the process, granted to me by the Russian government."

Relatives and Canadian investigators were flown at the government's expense to Moscow to attend the trial. Tuesday's verdict ordered Knyazev to return the costs.

Donald MacLean, brother of the woman killed in the accident, said in a statement passed out to reporters that "the Russian court has done a good job" and that he accepts the court's verdict.

"We hope this verdict will bring closure to victims and their families," Canadian Ambassador to Russia Rodney Irwin said. "Diplomats should draw lessons from this process. They should behave according to the laws of the country where they are living."

Pavlov said he would argue for a reduced sentence based on the absence of alcohol tests in the case. Knyazev, citing his diplomatic immunity, had refused to take the tests immediately after the accident.

He also said it had not been proven that the level of alcohol in Knyazev's blood was above the limit of 80 milligrams per liter allowed by Ontario law.

"It wasn't proven that Knyazev was drunk beyond this limit," Pavlov said.

Knyazev has seven days to file the appeal.