Drunk police commissioner disgraces force

  • 2001-08-02
  • Kairi Kurm
TALLINN - A drunk traffic and patrol commissioner Ants Pajumagi, 45, ran down a cyclist in his Mazda 626 police car on the stormy evening of July 16 while he was on his way to work in Viljandi, a town in the south of Estonia. The 20-year-old biker Erki died in hospital the following day. But the commissioner tried to hide evidence proving the fact that he was intoxicated.

Analysis showed that Pajumagi, who resigned shortly after the accident, had a blood alcohol level of 1.1.

The son of the policeman, Andres, 25, tried to save his father from a criminal case with the help of his lawyer Mart Sikut by planting new blood samples in his father's name the morning after the incident.

One of the employees of the hospital, who knew Ants Pajumagi personally, recognized the attempted fraud. Hella Vides, chief doctor at the Viljandi Hospital, told The Baltic Times why his suspicions were raised.

"At 2.15 p.m. on July 17 our employee Valter Sakk came to the hospital with a 20-year-old youngster to have a blood test. We noticed that the man - who turned out to be Andres Pajumagi - was younger than the date given in his ID code. We were amazed that this man who had been sent to the hospital was not followed by a policeman," said Vides.

According to Vides, it is not possible to find alcohol in the blood a day later. "It was senseless for Sakk to come to plant another sample."

Ants Pajumagi told the media that he had no idea about his son's plans. The lawyer also denied the accusations of organizing or participating in the plan.

Sakk, who denied his part in the plant, will now have to leave the job at the hospital that he began only a month previously.

Estonian Minister of Internal Affairs Tarmo Loodus said it was necessary to punish the lawyer for violating professional ethics. He told Harri Tuul, head of the Estonian police department, that Pajumagi should have been dismissed immediately and not given the chance to resign.

Indrek Raudjalg, a spokesman for the Estonian police department, said that Pajumagi may escape from criminal indictment if the biker is found to have been violating the rules of the road. Pajumagi might then be punished for drunk driving with a maximum penalty of 7,950 kroons ($444).

He said that police officials from all over Estonia, even those currently on vacation, should meet in the next few days to discuss how to improve police discipline. Tuul also ordered that a special group be established for checking individual policemen in their posts.

This is the first fatal road accident this year involving a policeman. Last year there were two. In one, a drunk policeman was giving a ride to his friends in Saaremaa when an elk got in the way. One of the passengers died. The other accident occurred in Tallinn, when a police car ran over an elderly woman who was crossing the road.

And accidents involving drunk policemen continue. In a supermarket parking lot on July 30, policeman Boriss Kotljar hit another car with his Mazda 626 police car and was dismissed at once on Tuul's orders. He had a blood alcohol level of 1.6.