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New Zealand Perspective, Historical: Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior bombing

post Nov 24 2008, 09:19 PM
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An interesting story from the history books of political intrigue and French Secret Services collusion.

From NZ Police website: Rainbow Warrior bombing

Rainbow Warrior sunk at her moorings at Marsden Wharf

On 7 July 1985 the Rainbow Warrior, flagship of the Greenpeace Organisation, an international body concerned with conservation and environmental issues, arrived in Auckland and tied up at Marsden Wharf.

On the night of 10 July 1985 disaster struck. Shortly before midnight two high explosive devices, attached to the hull of the Rainbow Warrior some time previously, detonated within the space of a few minutes. The force of the explosions was such that a hole eight feet in size was opened below the waterline at the engine room. The vessel sank within minutes.

Earlier that evening approximately 30 people had been on board the ship attending a birthday party and at the time of the explosion 12 people, including the captain, were still present. Only 11 made it to the safety of the wharf. Fernando Pereira, crew member and official photographer was drowned while attempting to retrieve photographic equipment from his cabin.

The incident was immediately treated as a homicide enquiry and under the guidance of Detective Superintendent Allan Galbraith there began one of the most far reaching investigations this country has ever seen. As a major international scandal it was, ironically, to give Greenpeace far more publicity than would have occurred had the ill fated Rainbow Warrior completed her voyage to Muroroa Atoll.

The discovery of an abandoned rubber Zodiac dinghy and an outboard motor and the sighting of a blue and white campervan, led to the interview of a French speaking couple two days later by the Police, and their subsequent arrest on 15 July.

Although initially identified as Alain Jacques Turenge and his wife Sophie Frederique Clare Turenge, inquiries revealed their true identities to be Major Alain Mafart, aged 35 and Captain Dominique Prieur, aged 36.

Serving as commissioned officers in the French Armed Forces, they had been detailed to assist members of the French Security Forces to ensure the much publicised voyage of the Rainbow Warrior to French territorial waters did not eventuate. To prevent the voyage occurring the vessel had to be so extensively damaged that repairs could not be completed in time for the voyage to begin.

What the French had failed to take into account was the small population of New Zealand and the uniqueness of a bombing. Extensive media coverage brought out the best in New Zealanders. The public was horrified by the bombing and they flooded the Police with information. When linked with information obtained by New Zealand detectives in New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, Australia, Switzerland, France and England this proved without any doubt the major role played by the French Security Service in the bombing and the subsequent death of Fernando Pereira.

Police investigations soon led to the yacht Ouvea, which had been hired from Noumea to transport the explosives and French agents to New Zealand. The yacht was never located and is thought to have been scuttled.

The positioning and successful detonation of the explosives indicated those responsible were trained and expert in underwater warfare. A sighting of Mafart and Prieur in possession of the Zodiac dinghy led to their early apprehension by New Zealand Police. Initially arrested on charges relating to false passports, they were later charged with arson, conspiring to commit arson on the Rainbow Warrior and with the murder of Pereira.

Inquiries were however to suggest their role had only been one of support for those who had placed the explosive devices and, as part of their support role, they had picked up and transported from the rendezvous point at Hobson Bay one of those responsible for the placement of the explosive.

In the weeks leading up to the depositions hearing, media interest was fanned by conflicting statements from the French Government. On 27 August President Mitterrand of France had released a report which fully exonerated the French Secret Services. The correct names of the Ouvea crew, who presented themselves to the French police in Paris were contained in the report when it was published. The French Government refused a request for their extradition to New Zealand. The French Press was not satisfied and a number of prominent French papers continued to pressure the Government for the truth. Their persistent enquiries led to the inescapable conclusion that their own Government was responsible. Following a further round of official denials, Monsieur Hernu, the Defence Minister resigned and on 22 September Prime Minister Laurent Fabius admitted, in the face of indisputable evidence, that the French Secret Service had ordered the attack on the Rainbow Warrior.

On Monday 4 November 1985, Major Alain Mafart and Captain Dominique Prieur appeared in the Auckland District Court for the start of a deposition hearing after earlier pleading Not Guilty to the charges of arson, conspiring to commit arson and murder. Recently refurbished, the ornate old Auckland High Court building was selected for the trial.

In front of the public and assembled journalists from a variety of countries Mafart and Prieur dramatically changed their pleas. Stunned, those present listened as they entered Guilty pleas, not only to arson, but also to a reduced charge of manslaughter. The case of the century, predicted to last weeks and to cost thousands of dollars, was over within half an hour. The Solicitor General Mr Paul Neazor, Q.C., indicated to Judge Gilbert that the Crown was prepared to accept a plea on the lesser charge of manslaughter as, with the evidence available it could not be established that Mafart and Prieur were personally responsible for the placing of the explosive devices on the Rainbow Warrior, nor that they intended anyone should be killed or injured.

On Friday, 22 November Mafart and Prieur again appeared in the Auckland High Court and were sentenced to ten years imprisonment on the charge of manslaughter and seven years imprisonment on the charge of arson. In delivering judgement the Chief Justice Sir Ronald Davison gave a clear indication of his feelings on the possibilty of early deportation stating "People who come to this country and commit terrorist activities cannot expect to have a short holiday at the expense of our Government and return home as heroes".

The Rainbow Warrior was refloated on 21 August 1985 and transported to Devonport Naval base in Auckland for detailed examination where a close analysis resulted in the reluctant decision by Greenpeace to scuttle the vessel, the damage being too extensive to repair.

Six months after the bombing Auckland Police staff were still working to locate and bring to trial those persons who attached the actual devices to the ill-fated Rainbow Warrior.

Pictured are the four French men who travelled on the Ouvea. The identities of those responsible for placing the explosive devices on the Rainbow Warrior have not been officially established.

And from WikiPedia: The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior

The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, codenamed Opération Satanique, was an operation by the "action" branch of the French foreign intelligence services, the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE), carried out on July 10, 1985. It aimed to sink the flagship of the Greenpeace fleet, the Rainbow Warrior in the port of Auckland, New Zealand, to prevent her from interfering in a nuclear test in Moruroa.

Fernando Pereira, a photographer, drowned on the sinking ship. Two French agents were arrested by the New Zealand Police on passport fraud and immigration charges. They were charged with arson, conspiracy to commit arson, willful damage, and murder. As part of a plea bargain, they pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were sentenced to ten years, of which they served just over two.

The scandal resulted in the resignation of the French Defence Minister Charles Hernu, and the subject remained controversial. It was twenty years afterwards that the personal responsibility of French President François Mitterrand was admitted.

This post has been edited by alanj: Nov 24 2008, 09:20 PM
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post Nov 25 2008, 01:43 AM
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an incident of state-sanctioned terrorism[as are virtually all incidents of terrorism].

murder. and murder most foul.

a crime for which there is no statute of limitations.

still, nz did not go to den haag[world court] to seek extradition. why?

was it because nz and france were partners in echelon?

does this make the govt of nz co-conspirators in homicide. i sure think so.

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post Nov 25 2008, 02:46 AM
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QUOTE (albertchampion @ Nov 25 2008, 06:43 PM) *
does this make the govt of nz co-conspirators in homicide. i sure think so.

It definitely does beg the question.

I don't remember many more facts of the case. I may dig a little deeper if I get the time.

I just thought it's got everything: State sponsored terrorism, a duplicitous government, explosives, death of a French citizen, and a French president that after 20 years finally admitted that he knew all about it.

A great lesson to be learned and held up as an example to all those duh-bunkers who would say, "a government would never do that"
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post Nov 25 2008, 11:39 AM
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Ah! Francois Mitterand, a man who showed less than candor about his past.

Another enigmatic figure. Ambivalent about condemnation of the Vichy regimes actions during WW2. A regime that named its highest medal for services to France after the double headed axe that Clovis used to kill [1], the francisque. Clovis the founder of the Merovingian dynasty. Sanders has something to say about that lot.

For more on Vichy and Mitterand I draw your attention to:

Verdict On Vichy: Power and Prejudice in the Vichy France Regime

EDIT: Added note:

[1] Hence the term 'cloven in two' I suspect.

This post has been edited by Omega892R09: Nov 25 2008, 11:40 AM
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