Th, 1.06.2023
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Theft of drug money ends in disability

Risto Berendson
, reporter
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Photo: Illustratsioon: Martin Perens

Court hearing commences regarding cruel beating known by dramatic arrest on Virtsu-Kuivastu ferryboat last October.

Charges on attempted murder are brought to Kent Kuntsel (37), Janek Kiirend (41), Kalmer Laanemäe (36) and Martin Kütt (25).

Six months later, their victim – a man of 58 who rented a room to Kent Kuntsel – is hospitalised as one without active legal capacity: an in-patient probably for quite a while as beaten badly for stealing €40,000 from the accused. Drug biz money, likeliest.

For the police, it all begun on August 8th last year, about one o’clock at night.

Alerted by eyewitness

Alarm centre got a phone call from a watchful individual from Õismäe who saw an unconscious man pulled out of the trunk of a car and dragged to a staircase of an apartment house. Arriving at the scene, police patrol demanded entry into a flat of interest. In vain – the door remained shut.

The information having been serious, they broke the door down. Inside, they found an inadequate Kent Kuntsel. As well as a man unconscious who was hospitalised by ambulance. What was it all about?

Turns out, the victim was an acquaintance of Kent Kuntsel’s father, the man renting his Õismäe apartment. The background of Mr Kuntsel and his circles had been of interest to the police for quite a while, he men being associated with drug business both sides of the Gulf of Finland. 

In the evening of August 7th, Mr Kuntsel discovered that €40,000 was missing from his room. Probably, a sum made by selling drugs. The thief could only have been the landlord, and Mr Kuntsel dealt with him promptly. Beating him with hands and feet, at times with objects that were handy.

While thus clobbered, the man confessed the theft. He said the money was hidden in his Harku Commune cottage. They headed there by car. Further quarrelling while driving, the pulled over half way to whip the man some more.

When the man attempted escape, his was tied hands and feet. In the cottage, all they found was €10,000. The owner of the cottage was of no help searching for the money, in coma from the constant beating.

With the situation out of control, it was decided to take the alleged chief beater Mr Kuntsel with victim to their Õismäe apartment. Let him see about his own mess. And we know what happened then.

In the morning of August 8th, criminal policemen at Northern prefecture were busy as bees. Searching the cottage of the victim, they found €32,000 hidden away under the floor. In the residences of Mr Kuntsel, over 300 illegal cartridges were unearthed.

The man’s three alleged accomplishes, however, had vanished into thin air. Mobiles out of radio coverage. Janek Kiirend, the biggest and the strongest of the wanted was freshly out of a Finnish jail. Therefore, they thought the men were hiding in Finland.

Fleeing to Lithuania

It was only later that they found out: most of their 2.5 months in hiding were spent in Lithuania where Mr Kiirend knew some people. On October 23rd, the fugitives and their women were to celebrate a reunion at a hotel in Saaremaa.

This was known to drug and organised crime department at Northern prefecture, preparing to serve them a surprise. The strike team was waiting for the right time to intervene. Initially, there were no signs of the fugitives. The police was watching as the women drove towards Saaremaa in separate cars.  

For the safety of the ladies and the children, they could not organise an arrest on the highway – fearing an accident while attempting to escape. Knowing the ferry the ladies were supposed to board, the policemen took the same ship.

Then and there, the situation suddenly changed. In Virtsu, the police saw Kalmer Laanemäe’s wife stopping her car at the port building and a man in a hoodie, having waited further away, swiftly jumping to the back seat. At the very last moment, Janek Kiirend also ran aboard.

Thus, all of a sudden, the police found themselves on the same ferry with the men of interest, sailing towards Kuivastu. Mr Kiirend and his daughter went to the play area, Mr Laanemäe sat down at a table nearby. Talking it over quickly, the police opted to snatch the fugitives then and there.

Ferryboat arrest

«The police wanted no risks,» explained Northern prefecture drug and organised crime department Leho Laur. On the narrow car deck, other people’s cars might have been damaged. A scuffle on the steep stairs is always life-threatening. Thus, the only option was a surprise attack in the passenger area.

After some few dozen seconds of forceful operation, the fugitives had their handcuffs on. The morning after, the entire media was buzzing with the violent arrest. For starters, the police and prosecutor’s office were tongue-tied with comments as one of the four – Martin Kütt and the only one of the quartet criminally punished in Estonia – was still on the run. On December 10th, he was taken as well.

At the end of January, Northern prefecture sent the criminal case materials to court. District prosecutor Rita Siniväli accuses the four in attempted murder and illegal deprivation of liberty. Also, Mr Kuntsel and Mr Laanemäe are accused in driving while intoxicated by drugs, and Mr Kuntsel in possessing illegal ammunition.

Today, Harju County Court holds the fist preliminary hearing.

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