Driver in Saaremaa fatal drunk driving crash charged with murder

Aftermath of the fatal accident on Saaremaa. January 11, 2020.
Aftermath of the fatal accident on Saaremaa. January 11, 2020. Source: Irina Mägi

A man involved in a drunk driving crash which killed three people in Saaremaa in January has been charged with murder.

The prosecutor's office western district filed the indictment on May 20, ERR's online news in Estonian reports, and has taken the position that there was intent behind the individual's extremely reckless behavior.

The charged, a 34-year-old man, knowingly and intentionally drove significantly higher than the speed limit, while severely intoxicated, and deliberately overtook in a stretch of highway where such a maneuver is prohibited, the prosecutor's office says.

"Such behavior poses a most serious threat to fellow road users and therefore presents a general hazard (Estonian: Üldohtlik)," said prosecutor Rainer Amur, according to ERR.

A criminal case had already been initiated under the Estonian penal code section related to violation of traffic requirements by a driver, where this has been committed while intoxicated and has resulted in the death of two or more people. 

However, prosecutor Rainer Amur, considering the evidence, found that the series of decisions that led to the events of January 11 deserved to come under a more serious component of the penal code.

Two women and a baby died in the collision, which took place on January 11 at a junction at the 128-kilometer mark of the Risti-Virtsu-Kuivastu road (Risti and Virtsu are on the mainland-ed.). The victims were in a Volvo which was aiming to turn left, when the driver of an Audi, the charged, overtook at speed as they turned into the Audi's path. A passenger in the Volvo was seriously injured, as was the accused.

In line with Estonian legal procedure, the charge has been sent to the court for general proceedings, and the time of the court hearing will be announced at a preliminary hearing. The accused is still in custody.

If convicted, the accused would face a jail sentence of eight to twenty years, or possible life imprisonment, it is reported.

Under Estonian law, no further information on the charge or the evidence gathered can be provided before the trial begins.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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