Drunk driver in fatal Saaremaa crash convicted of murder

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Aftermath of the fatal crash which killed a baby and two women on Saaremaa. Source: Irina Mägi

The Pärnu County Court on Wednesday convicted Andres Reinart, who caused a drunk driving crash in which three people were killed and one severely injured on Saaremaa island in January 2020, of murder and handed him a 14-year jail term.

West District Prosecutor Rainer Amur said at the court sitting held at the Kuressaare court house in February that Reinart, aged 34, must be found guilty on the basis of the section of the Penal Code dealing with murder and given a sentence of 14 years in prison. 

The attorney for the defense, Anu Toomemägi, meanwhile said that the application of the section of the Penal Code dealing with murder is not justified in the case of a traffic offense and the accused must be acquitted on that charge.  

She said the court also has to take into account that contributory fault was entailed in the tragic accident, as the driver of the vehicle of the victims violated traffic rules and that a specific section exists in the Penal Code that is applied in the case of such traffic accidents.    

Two women and an infant died in the crash involving an Audi driven by the accused and a Volvo passenger car that took place in Saaremaa at 2:45 p.m. on January 11, 2020.

The collision took place when the Audi driven by Reinart was overtaking the Volvo at a high speed, not noticing that the Volvo was about to make a left turn. A 27-year-old woman behind the wheel of the Volvo, her eight-month-old child and 58-year-old mother died in the crash and the driver of the Audi and a 37-year-old passenger of the Volvo, sister of the driver of the Volvo, were taken to hospital.

Nearly 10 kilometers before the site of the crash, Reinart had been measured by a police patrol to have been speeding at 138 kilometers per hour.

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

Reinart has said he remembers nothing of the accident. He has said that he remembers that he was about to take a nap in his vehicle as the woman he had spent the night with had to go somewhere. According to Reinart, the next thing he remembers is waking up in a hospital where he was told that he had participated in a car crash in which people were killed. 

Prosecutor's office hails court for unprecedented decision

The prosecutor in charge of an investigation has praised the court for the verdict whereby the person who caused the crash was convicted of murder.  

"For the prosecutor's office it is important to see that, after examining all pieces of evidence, the county court agreed with our arguments and also sees that a killing is a killing also when it took place on a road and the killer sits behind the wheel of a car," West District Prosecutor Rainer Amur said in a statement. 

"The prosecutor's office places great value in it that the county court dared to pass a verdict so different from existing judicial practice, but it is namely in this way that justice can change in time," the prosecutor said.

Amur said that while he has no doubt that this dispute will continue in a higher court, this decision will remain in history as a milestone. 

"No court verdict or punishment can bring back the people who have died or human health lost, but it is in our power to call things as they are and show that a crime will be followed by a just punishment," he said.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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