Captain of bombed Rainbow Warrior says justice not done


Wellington (dpa) – The skipper of the Rainbow Warrior said Monday he had accepted an apology by a French military operative who mined the activists’ ship in 1985.

But Peter Willcox seemed to doubt retired Colonel Jean-Luc Kister’s claims that the secret agents were unaware of the danger to people’s lives, he told Radio New Zealand.

“I hope it allows him to sleep better and live his life out,” Willcox said.

“Someone was murdered in cold blood. No, I don’t think justice was ever done. I think that’s a ridiculous notion.”

The mines blew a hole in the ship’s hull while it was docked in Aukland, killing Portuguese photographer Fernando Pereira, who was trapped in his cabin as it sunk.

Kister admitted last week that he was one of the French spy agency’s divers who planted two mines on the hull, according to the investigative website Mediapart on Sunday.

He also issued a public apology in an interview with Television New Zealand on Sunday night. But he insisted that he thought the explosives were not designed to hurt anyone.

“It was a disproportionate operation but we had to obey the order, we were soldiers.”

Willcox said Monday that he found it hard to believe the French agents would not have known the effect the bombing would have.

“I’m still shocked that such a professional team could bungle the job so badly,” he said.

“I mean the first bomb blew a 2-metre-by-2.5 metre hole in the hull and the boat sank in 45 seconds, that really doesn’t sound to me like they were concerned at all about the life on board the ship.”

The Rainbow Warrior was planning to protest against French nuclear testing at Mururoa Atoll about 1,200 kilometres south east of Tahiti.

Only two of the French agents involved were caught and prosecuted in New Zealand.

Dominique Prieur and Alain Mafart were sentenced to 10 years in prison for manslaughter. They served less than two years in New Zealand before being transferred to a base in French Polynesia.

Former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer, who was attorney general at the time, told Radio New Zealand that the outcome was best that could have been achieved.

“We got an apology (and) we got compensation.”

“From New Zealand’s point of view we got as much as you could possibly expect when you’re dealing with a powerful military nation, a permanent member of the security council and a nuclear power.”