Editorial: Fear Western Life

Drawn by Ott Vallik.
Drawn by Ott Vallik.

The peaceful life of Haapsalu was created by the knowledge that a man who killed at least one girl here almost 30 years ago and tried to rape two, and was sentenced to death 28 years ago, could be released. And he may come to live in the same place where he committed his heinous crimes.

At the end of July 1992, ten-year-old Sveta disappeared in Haapsalu. He was searched, but to no avail. The disappearance of the child was tracked in mid-August, when an attempt was made to rape a 12-year-old girl in Haapsalu. Fortunately, the girl escaped and was able to describe her attacker. Thus, Vassili Otškalenko was tracked down, who eventually showed Sveta the burial place. The Western County Court sentenced Otkhalenko to 15 years in prison, which was later commuted to death by the district court.

This is not the first time that a death row inmate has been released. At the beginning of September, Postimees wrote about Oleg Pyatnitski, who had been behind bars for almost 38 years for killings, rape, etc. He, too, was sentenced to death in 1992, but the death penalty was replaced by life imprisonment. Now the man was released on a seven-year probationary period, lives in the rehabilitation center for problematic people in Lootuse village near Laitse in Harju County and makes plans for the future.

There are indeed cases where people who have committed monstrous crimes have grown up and started a new and law-abiding life. In such a case, it would be unfair to recall past acts, all the more so once the sentence has been served. However, there are far more cases where the released person commits a new crime and is soon back in the old environment.

We do not know what is going on in the head of a person who has been cut off from society for almost 30 years. We also do not know at the moment what the conditions will be if the court decides to release Otchalenko. But his release will certainly cause uncertainty, not only for the former victims or police officers who solved the crimes at the time, but for the entire community here.

Source: Lääne Elu by online.le.ee.

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