TALLINN - Estonian national security police have arrested a man suspected of carrying out an explosion earlier this month on Tallinn's notorious Pae Street.
The suspect is a 67-year-old ethnic Estonian man who has a higher technical education, according to police. He is registered in several residences in Tallinn and its vicinity and has not been convicted before.
For now, he is the only suspect, police reported.
"This individual is suspected of being related to several explosions in the Pae Street area," said Henno Kuurmann, superintendent at the Security Police Board of Estonia.
Pae Street has become notorious for a series of mysterious bombings. All told, 15 explosions have occurred on Pae Street and the surrounding area over the past 10 years. The total victim count is nine dead and another nine injured.
The last explosion, which occurred Nov. 3, killed a 27-year-old man who had been unemployed and suffered from drug-abuse problems.
According to investigators, the suspect might lead to a breakthrough in previous unsolved crimes. Over the past decade, police have collected a great deal of evidence from inactivated bombs found on Pae Street, and have investigated more than 10,000 individuals.
"Several other crimes have come to light during the investigation, and several people have been charged," said Kuurmann.
The suspect does not know the victims and is not related to law-enforcement organizations.
The media has speculated that the criminal could be a nationalist or have intolerant feelings toward the homeless. Ethnic Russians make up the majority of the Lasnamae district's population, while the targeted area on Pae Street, which is surrounded by garages and trees, is popular with the homeless.
"We have read about these statements in the press, but criminal files do not enable us to approve this information," said Kuurmann.
Homicide by use of explosives could result in anywhere from eight years to a lifetime in prison.
Leading public prosecutor Margus Kurm said that lifelong imprisonment was the maximum punishment, whether the murderer used one or two explosions. "Besides the number of explosions, the punishment also depends on several other circumstances that are not known yet," he added.
The City of Tallinn increased its reward for finding the criminal from 200,000 kroons (12,850 euros) to 1 million kroons during an extraordinary meeting on Nov. 4.
The reward, however, was not disbursed since it was the official investigation that led to the suspect. Police received a dozen phone calls related to the investigation. The number of calls did not, however, increase due to the reward, Kuurmann said.
The Estonian Rescue Board received a total of 147 calls regarding possible bombs in the Lasnamae area this year, which is almost one third of the calls made in the Harju County