Top court to handle case of Saaremaa drunk driver

The Supreme Court building.
The Supreme Court building. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The Supreme Court of Estonia on Monday accepted into proceedings the appeal lodged by the public prosecutor in the case of Andres Reinart, who caused a drunk driving crash in which three people were killed and one severely injured on Saaremaa island in January 2020.

West District Prosecutor Rainer Amur is seeking in an appeal in cassation the annulment of the Tallinn Circuit Court judgment from September 28 and wants the initial judgment by the Pärnu County Court upheld instead.

Reinart's attorney Anu Toomemägi is seeking in an appeal in cassation the annulment of the circuit court's decision and Reinart's acquittal in a new judgment. Alternatively, Toomemägi is pursuing a new decision reducing Reinart's punishment. The Supreme Court dismissed the attorney's appeal.

The Tallinn Circuit Court on September 28 annulled Reinart's murder conviction, deciding that the deed of the accused in this case did not qualify as murder and had to be reclassified as a traffic offense. The court convicted Reinart of a traffic offense committed in a state of intoxication which resulted in the death of three people and sentenced him to 10 years and eight months in prison.

As a supplementary punishment, Reinart was deprived of his driving license for two years. 

The circuit court found that in the case, traffic offenses had been correctly identified, including that the offenses had been committed intentionally. The circuit court disagreed to the severe consequence of the traffic offense having been caused intentionally and the offense having the necessary elements of murder. The circuit court said that while the accused significantly violated several requirements stipulated in the Traffic Act and did so intentionally, he did not have the intent to cause any severe consequences through his violations. 

The determining factor in this case was that while the traffic offenses had been committed intentionally, it was not unambiguously ascertained that the accused had any intent to cause anyone's death or damage anyone's health as a result of his traffic offenses. 

In this case, the court found that the accused had instead hoped that a dangerous consequence would not materialize, which constitutes negligence regarding the consequence, and thus, in the court's assessment, the death of three people and severe damages to health were caused through negligence.

The circuit court decided that Reinart's act does not qualify as murder in the case in question and must be reclassified as violation of traffic requirements or vehicle operating rules by driver in state of intoxication if it causes the death of two or more people.

As the circuit court has reclassified the deed of the accused, the earlier conviction by the county court regarding the punishment handed to the accused had to be annulled. Reclassified as a traffic offense, the deed of the accused is punishable by three to 12 years' imprisonment.

The court said that the rule of law is sufficiently ensured by the accused being punished by imprisonment near the upper limit of the sanction and sentenced Reinart to 10 years and eight months in prison.

A court sitting in the Kuressaare courthouse of Pärnu 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 a court sitting held at the Kuressaare court house in February that Reinart 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 Jan. 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. 


Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!

Editor: Marcus Turovski

Hea lugeja, näeme et kasutate vanemat brauseri versiooni või vähelevinud brauserit.

Parema ja terviklikuma kasutajakogemuse tagamiseks soovitame alla laadida uusim versioon mõnest meie toetatud brauserist: