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September 24, 2009

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Canadian motorist freed after fatal crash

A CANADIAN driving without a Chinese license who crashed into the rear of a truck and caused the death of a passenger who was his friend was yesterday freed from any criminal charges by a Shanghai court.

Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court judges said Nathaniel Perez, 39, was at fault in the accident but exempted him from criminal penalty because "the case is minor."

Perez, a deputy general manager of a Hong Kong firm in the city, offered to drive Frenchman Alex Akhavan home because Akhavan had consumed a lot of wine on the night of August 10 last year.

The car hit the truck on the Shanghai-Qingpu-Pinghu Expressway.

Akhavan later died in hospital of head injuries.

Traffic police said Perez did not keep a safe distance from the truck.

Perez said he had a valid Canadian driving license .

Perez asked the court to exempt him from criminal punishment. He said the truck had changed lanes suddenly and this caused the accident.

The court ruled that there was no evidence to support Perez's claim that the truck changed lanes.

However, the court decided to exempt the Canadian from criminal punishment as he had taken instant measures to try and save the victim and had shown deep remorse.

Perez had also reached a private compensation agreement with the victim's family and won their forgiveness.

Li Xiaohua, a senior lawyer specializing in criminal law, described the court's decision as "a fair judgment."

Li said the law stipulated a number of conditions, such as paying compensation, actively helping to try and save the victim and surrendering to police. Perez, Li said, had met all of these criteria.


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