Defender: Tarraste not himself yet

Karel Reisenbuk
, reporter/päevatoimetaja
Rünno Roosmaa, defender of the Lihula shooter Mikk Tarraste.
Rünno Roosmaa, defender of the Lihula shooter Mikk Tarraste. Photo: Urmas Luik

On Tuesday, Postimees talked to Rünno Roosmaa, defender of the Lihula shooter Mikk Tarraste, who has represented several notorious killers during his career spanning four decades. Among Roosmaa’s recent clients was Benjamin Hiienurm who, together with his brother, killed a taxi driver in Pärnu in 2016.

I understand that you will visit Tarraste tomorrow (Wednesday) and take some newspapers with you. Have you talked to him again since his arrest yesterday?

No, I have not.

He asked for newspapers. Did he have other requests?

One of the main reasons I will visit him tomorrow (Wednesday) is his desire to make a public statement as there is considerable public intertest. Whether it will work out and what that statement will be… cannot be said at this time.

Do you have a relatively clear picture of events? Of what happened in Lihula?

No, absolutely not. It has only been a few days since that horrible thing.

Has he been open with you so far?

I saw him for the first time just before and during his interrogation. It was a few days ago. It is very difficult to say, more so because he was clearly in shock. Obviously in shock.

The police have said they do not understand the motivation, have you any idea or has he told you what caused him to do those things?

I have thought about it, but it remains very hard to say. It certainly includes unfortunate circumstances coinciding and very poor decisions.

Has he shown remorse?

He has shown deep and heartfelt remorse as far as that is possible in a detention house. He has expressed deep regret from the very first time he was questioned. He will not be challenging his arrest and has already signed a corresponding document.

Has he said anything about why he opened fire at people? Was he afraid of something?

I cannot comment on that simply because the person is not fully themselves yet. He has not yet overcome the shock of realizing what happened.

Does he believe the escalation was caused by medication and substances he had taken?

The police have released information to suggest his blood alcohol level, while measured hours after the incident, was very low at 0.2 mg/l. This makes it very difficult to suggest he was acting under the influence. I have no more information. Samples have been taken and will be analyzed.

Has your client said anything about why he refused to be taken into custody and opted instead for a firefight with police and whether he only surrendered when he had run out of ammunition?

Again, I do not have an answer for you because the rather long interrogation did not even get that far.

You’ve said there are certain differences in the version of events told and what really happened. What are they?

I cannot say. There are certain differences, but because it concerns my defense work, I cannot comment.

How do you see your role?

(Thinks at length – ed.). You put me in a difficult position. The defense’s task is to try and improve the defendant’s position. Because he is potentially facing a life sentence, one goal is clearly to try and achieve a lesser punishment.

Do you already have a defense plan?

Absolutely, but in reference to your previous question, it is too soon to talk about that today.