By Evie Andreou
TWO YEARS after she was run over by a car driven by former Commerce Minister Takis Nemitsas, 16-year-old Ekaterina Meshko from Russia suffers from permanent brain damage, is confined to a wheelchair and is unable to take care of herself, her mother has said.
Nemitsas, 86, who had failed to stop at a red traffic light, pleaded guilty to the charges, but the judge did not impose a sentence due to mitigating factors such as his age, his clean driving record, his remorse and the fact that he offered the plaintiff restitution, both through his insurance company and by settling in the ensuing civil suit. The amount of compensation has not been made public.
After the accident, Ekaterina was transferred to the Nicosia General Hospital where she was diagnosed with severe head injuries and underwent surgery.
The teenager was on holiday in Limassol with her mother and family friends when the accident took place, in July 2012.
“I will never forget that day. We were at the beach and Ekaterina along with the other two girls of my friend left the beach to go buy ice cream,” Ekaterina’s mother, Nadezhda Meshko, told the daily Simerini on Monday in a telephone interview from St Ptersburg.
She said that the girls waited at the pedestrian cross for the green light, before they crossed the street and it was then that Ekaterina was hit by the car.
“I was in shock. My child’s head was cracked open and was bleeding excessively, screaming from pain,” Meshko said.
She said that her daughter had been very good at drawing and had wanted to be a designer when she grew up.
“Now my little girl cannot stand up; she cannot talk and in general she cannot do anything by herself without my help or her father’s,” the 40-year-old mother said.
According to Meshko, who also provided the daily with medical documents on her daughter’s condition, Ekaterina also suffers from severe muscle weakness in all four extremities. Since the accident the teenager has been taken to hospitals in Russia, Germany and China for treatment.
“I am disappointed by the court decision, but I admit it doesn’t surprise me because we learned that the defendant is an important person. Russians and Cypriots are very religious. God will judge everyone,” she said.
The teenager’s mother told the newspaper that the family had given statements to the police, but alleged that no one from Cyprus had shown any interest in Ekaterina’s condition in relation to the court case.
The outcome of the case prompted Limassol traffic police chief Michalis Katsounotos to send a letter to chief of police Zacharias Chrysostomou at the beginning of this month, inquiring about Nemitsas’ and two other cases, which involve accidents that took place in 2011 and 2012 in which the judge appeared to have handed down extremely lenient sentences.
To allay any concerns over foul play Attorney-general Costas Clerides gave a review of each case file last week. Commenting on Nemitsas’ court penalty, he said that there was nothing new in connection to the teenager’s condition and that there is no mention anywhere that she is a paraplegic, as was reported.
Clerides had said last week that in the absence of a sentence, no appeal for ‘inadequate sentencing’ could be filed. Nemitsas could have faced up to a year in prison or a fine of up to €1,708, or both.
The other two cases concern two fatal road accidents, where the accused were fined €3,000, their driving licences were temporarily revoked, and five penalty points.