Defense counsel seeks Saaremaa drunk driver's acquittal on murder charges

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Scene of the deadly crash in Saaremaa. January 11, 2020. Source: Irina Mägi

The Tallinn Circuit Court on Monday discussed the case of Andres Reinart, who in late March was convicted of murder after causing a drunk driving crash in which three people were killed and one severely injured on Saaremaa island in January 2020.

Reinart's attorney Anu Toomemagi is seeking the revocation of Reinart's conviction and his acquittal on murder charges in the circuit court. Alternatively, the defense counsel considers that the charges brought against Reinart should be re-evaluated as a traffic crime or the criminal case should be sent to the county court for a new hearing by another panel.

The circuit court is to announce its judgment on September 28.

A court sitting in the Kuressaare court house of Parnu County Court on March 31 convicted Reinart of murder and handed him a 14-year jail term.

West District Prosecutor Rainer Amur had previously said at the court sitting held at the Kuressaare court house in February that Reinart, aged 35, 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. 

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. According to the attorney, the court also should have taken into account that contributory fault was entailed in the tragic accident, as also 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. 

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Editor: Helen Wright

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