Ex-policeman who shot a person escapes sentence definitively

Rando Hõlpus.

PHOTO: Mihkel Maripuu

Rando Holpus, former policeman who killed an acquaintance last fall using his service weapon while heavily intoxicated, escaped final conviction as the Supreme Court of Estonia on Thursday did not start handling the appeal in cassation of the prosecutor's office.

The circuit court on Nov. 22, 2017 acquitted Holpus because there are no rebuttable evidence that he committed the crime he is accused of. There are doubts regarding the guilt of Holpus which have not been eliminated in the course of the criminal investigation. Pursuant to law all doubts which have not been eliminated have to be interpreted in favor of the defendant, the circuit court said.

The court added that it also cannot be said without doubt that the accused intended to kill the victim, therefore such a conclusion cannot be reached.

The circuit court also found that the Harju county court in its Aug. 10 decision and in the course of the court hearing substantially breached the criminal procedural law and applied the substantive law incorrectly. The county court when making a decision has erred against the obligation to state reasons for a decision and according to the law chamber of the Supreme Court, this can be considered a significant violations of the criminal procedural law.

The obligation to state reasons for a decision has firstly been violated with the fact that the formation of the conclusions of the county court is not traceable. In addition, the county court has taken a one-sided approach when assessing evidence and based on prejudices formed before. This in turn has resulted in a situation, in which the county court has left without substantive handling the defenders' versions of what happened. The law chamber said that the county court has without valid grounds left out the evidence of the defenders -- the statements of experts -- from the materials and the request of the defender for setting an additional DNA expert assessment was not satisfied without valid grounds.

The circuit court said that the investigation of the case in the county court has been at variance with the principle of honest and fair court proceeding, but nevertheless the law chamber did not consider it necessary to send the case once again for discussion in the county court. The court found that the case lacks the possibility of gathering a significant amount of new evidence and the by assessing the collected evidence fully and collectively, it is clear that it is not possible to deem Holpus guilty of the crime he is accused of on the basis of that evidence.

The North district prosecutor's office filed an appeal in cassation in response to the circuit court's decision, but the Supreme Court on Thursday decided to not start handling it. Thus the acquittal of Holpus entered fully into force.

The circuit court ordered the state to pay procedure expenses worth nearly 12,200 euros. In addition, the state has to pay Holpus 39.40 euros for every day he was in custody, totaling 16,784.40 euros.

The hearing of Holpus started on March 13 when the man said that it was a horrific accident and did not plead guilty of murder. Later Holpus did not want to make any more statements, saying that he had already said everything that needed to be said during pretrial investigation.

The Harju county court in its Aug. 10 verdict found that the guilt of Rando Holpus in murder is proven and he has to go to jail for nine years. The court said that during pretrial procedure Holpus repeatedly changed his statements, which is why they cannot be considered trustworthy, while the versions offered by the defenders were not believable either. The court found that the prosecutor's version of the incident did match the evidence.

According to the charges Holpus shot a man he was drinking with in the chest on Sept. 23, 2016 in Tallinn's Lasnamae borough. The victim died on the scene. During investigation it was discovered that Holpus had attacked the man also before.