Pacific Media Watch

7 September 2015

GLOBAL: 'Apology' yes, but Rainbow Warrior skipper says it was murder

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Rainbow Warrior skipper Peter Willcox during a recent interview with the Pacific Media Centre. Image: PMC

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): Rainbow Warrior captain Peter Willcox says he accepts the French bomber's apology as sincere but he adds the crime was still murder and up to a "dozen or so" people could have lost their lives that night 30 years ago.

Portuguese-born Dutch photographer Fernando Pereira was killed during the French state-sponsored sabotage Operation Satanic on the night of 10 July 1985.

He drowned while on board the Rainbow Warrior when the second of two exploding limpet mines crippled the propellor shaft near his cabin. The first bomb ripped a huge hole in the engine room.

Retired French secret service colonel Jean-Luc Kister apologised to Greenpeace, the Pereira family and the people of New Zealand for this act of sabotage that caused an "innocent death" in two separate interviews on the French investigative website Mediapart and TVNZ's Sunday programme yesterday as a media collaboration.

Willcox, currently on board Rainbow Warrior III as skipper on a tuna fisheries campaign in the Pacific, gave this statement to Pacific Media Watch early today after seeing the TVNZ programme:

I felt that Kister was sincere in his apology last night.  And I accept it.  We are all human, and we all make mistakes.  People and governments alike.

But Mr Kister must now stand as an admitted murderer, and there can be no quibbling on this. This includes [the late] President François Mitterrand and the rest of the team that both planned and executed the crime.

Mr Kister wants us to believe that they were incompetent when they planted the bombs on the Rainbow Warrior, and that they never meant to kill anyone.  I believe they were indifferent, not incompetent.

What did they think would happen?  They blew a 2 x 2.5 metre hole in the hull below the waterline.  The boat sank in about 45 seconds.

About one minute later, the second bomb that killed Fernando went off.  This was a highly trained military team.  Could they really have been that bad at their job?  They could have used, and I am guessing here, one quarter of the explosives, and sunk the boat, giving us time to get off. 

There is no doubt in my mind that, had the bombs gone off 30 minutes sooner, we would have lost the dozen or so persons who were left from the meeting of the Peace Fleet crews in the cargo hold.  They would have never have had time to get off.

While Mr Kister has apologised last night, the government of France never has.  Not to Greenpeace, not to the Pereira family.  We are done asking.  It up is to them.

The Rainbow Warrior bomber's apology

Pete Willcox reflects on the Rainbow Warrior bombing

Rainbow Warrior 30 Years On microsite

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PMC's media monitoring service

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