Drunk driver in fatal Saaremaa crash to remain in custody

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

The Parnu County Court decided to leave Andres Reinart, who caused a drunk driving crash in which three people were killed and one severely injured on Saaremaa island in January, in custody on June 3.

According to the court ruling, the reasons for which Reinart was placed into custody remain valid, and there is a risk that the accused will continue to commit new crimes if he is released.

"According to the statement of charges, the accused tends to have a problem with excessive alcohol consumption. The defense's rationale for the poor health condition of the accused does not justify the application of a lighter preventive measure. Medical care is guaranteed for the accused in custody," the court said.

The court agreed to the position of the prosecutor that Reinart's health situation does not prevent him from moving around or acquiring and consuming alcohol, therefore, if released, he may continue abusing alcohol and the risk of him committing new crimes is high.

"Due to the aforementioned reasons, the court has reasons to suspect that the accused may continue committing new crimes upon his release. Only continued detention can ensure the law-abiding conduct of the accused and the enforcement of the law," the court said.

Anu Toomemagi, defense lawyer for Reinart, who has been charged with murder, at a preliminary hearing on Tuesday applied for Reinart's release from custody. Toomemagi said that while Reinart's actions do not deserve a murder charge, it is up to the prosecutor which accusation they take to the court and which risk they thus assume.

Prosecutor Rainer Amur has said earlier that according to the charges filed by the prosecutor's office, the accused knew that he was heavily intoxicated, he knowingly and intentionally drove significantly faster than the speed limit, and intentionally moved into the opposite lane in a place where overtaking is prohibited.

"The prosecutor's office assesses that he had to know that safe overtaking depends not on him but chance, and did not care about it. Such behavior poses a most serious threat to fellow road users and therefore presents a danger to the public," he said.

The investigation was opened based on the section of the Penal Code dealing with the violation of traffic requirements or vehicle operating rules by a driver, when committed in an intoxicated state and which causes the death of two or more people. Considering the evidence, the prosecutor found however that the sequence of decisions that led to the tragic event of January 11 deserves to be handled under one of the harshest sections of the Penal Code.

Two women and an infant died in the crash involving a Volvo and an Audi passenger car that took place in the 128th kilometer of the Risti-Virtsu-Kuivastu road on the afternoon of January 11.

The police were informed about the collision that took place when the Audi driven by the intoxicated driver was overtaking the Volvo at a high speed, not noticing that the Volvo was about to make a left turn, at 2:45 p.m. Two women and a small child died in the accident and the driver of the Audi and a passenger of the Volvo were taken to hospital.

Nearly ten kilometers before the site of the crash, Reinart had been measured to have been speeding at 138 kilometers per hour by police officers.

An hour after the accident, Reinart's blood alcohol content (BAC) was measured to be 3.51 promilles at Kuressaare hospital. Subsequent expert analysis lowered the figure to 1.82 promille.

The first court session in Reinart's criminal case will be held at the Kuressaare courthouse on October 22.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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