Suspect in Narva fatal arson attack placed in custody

PPA officer's high-vis vest.
PPA officer's high-vis vest. Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

A suspect in an arson case in the border town of Narva has been remanded in custody. Two people died in the blaze, which occurred on Saturday, July 24 at property used as a summer house, while the suspect, who has a criminal record including for violent crimes, is reported to have attacked a woman who was fleeing the inferno.

Viru District Prosecutor Ragnar Plistkin said that the individual, a 44-year-old, was suspected of: "Setting fire to the summer cottage where five people, in addition to the man himself, were present at the time."

"Three people managed to get out of the building, but a man and a woman sleeping on the second floor died in the fire," Plistkin went on, quoted by BNS.

"The man also attacked a woman who was trying to escape. The prosecutor's office requested the arrest of the man, who has been previously punished for violent crimes, for the period of the pretrial  investigation. The court agreed and the suspect was remanded in custody for an initial period of two months," the prosecutor added.

Evidence collected at the scene provides grounds to suspect the individual, who for legal reasons can't be named, of killing two people, attempted killing of three people and physical abuse of two people.

The man was remanded in custody pending trial Monday, following court approval.

BNS reports that the alarm center (Häirekeskus) was notified of a fire at an address on Põlevkivi, in a garden district on the southern outskirts of the town, while Tatjana Press, lead Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) investigator in Narva, said that the authority's prompt response enabled the suspect's apprehension at the scene.

Two people, a woman, aged 41, and a 39-year-old man, perished in the blaze, the prosecutor's office says, adding that there is sufficient evidence to point towards arson as the cause.

The suspect was arrested on the same day.

BNS reports that a total of six people, including the suspect, had been present at the Põlevkivi address the day before the incident, and the group had been consuming alcohol.

After a quarrel erupted between the suspect and a person reported as the same man's partner, the suspect left, returning the next day, when those gathered continued to consume alcohol.

After the conflict restarted, the suspect is alleged to have attacked a woman and set fire to a sofa inside the building; this fire later spread to engulf the entire building, while the suspect is alleged to have remained at the scene and attacked a woman who was fleeing the blaze.

Whether an accelerant had been used was not reported.

The investigation is ongoing.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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