Norway’s Supreme Court has overturned the acquittal granted to Andrey Yakunin, the son of former head of state-owned Russian Railways Vladimir Yakunin, NRK broadcasting company reports. Andrey Yakunin was detained last year for illegal use of drones on Svalbard.
Three judges voted in favour of overturning the verdict, two voted against. Now the district court will be considering the case once again.
Yakunin’s lawyer said that the Supreme Court decision did not signify the final decision in the case. He noted that the court did not take into consideration other legal questions related to the case, for example, whether the ban on using drones applies to people with dual citizenship — Yakunin Jr. is a citizen of both Russia and the UK.
Andrey Yakunin was arrested on 17 October 2022. He was accused of flying his drone on Svalbard, while staying on his yacht; the drone use is a violation of sanctions legislation. The sanctions prohibit Russian nationals from operating planes and drones in Norway.
In court, Yakunin explained that he did not know about the ban on drone use for Russians. The prosecutor’s office requested 120 days in prison for the man, however the court decided to set him free. The police appealed the decision on the same day. On 2 November, the appeals court ruled that Yakunin should be kept in custody for four weeks, pending trial.
In December, the appeals court allowed Yakunin to be released from the detention centre he was held in. The court ruled that the ban on drone use did not apply to small drones. The Supreme Court, however, stated in the new ruling that the ban does apply to all drones after all, seeing as they’re considered “aerial vehicles”.