French agents in Warrior case will be seen on TV

8th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

WELLINGTON, Aug 8, 2006 (AFP) - A New Zealand court has torpedoed efforts by French secret agents to stop a television channel screening their guilty pleas in the bombing of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior.

WELLINGTON, Aug 8, 2006 (AFP) - A New Zealand court has torpedoed efforts by French secret agents to stop a television channel screening their guilty pleas in the bombing of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior.

In a unanimous decision, three Appeal Court judges on Monday gave Television New Zealand permission to show the footage of Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur.

The clip showed the pair pleading guilty to the manslaughter of photographer Fernando Pereira following the 1985 Rainbow Warrior bombing.

Lawyers for the French spies argued they never approved the closed circuit television footage being kept as a permanent record, and its screening would compromise their privacy.

But the judges — Mark O'Regan, Grant Hammond and Terence Arnold — said they were satisfied airing the footage was warranted.

"Use of visual images of Mr. Marfart and Mrs. Prieur pleading guilty would provide a powerful mechanism for conveying information about the events surrounding the Rainbow Warrior bombing," they said.

"The event holds significance both domestically and internationally, involving as it did covert criminal activity by the security forces of a friendly state.

"New generations of New Zealanders who did not live through the Rainbow Warrior incident will benefit by learning about it through not only the spoken and written word, but through the images of this footage."

During the hearing the agents' lawyer Gerard Curry argued open justice was satisfied in 1985.

The media had been allowed to fill a second courtroom in the High Court at Auckland and watch the trial on closed circuit television, he said.

The Rainbow Warrior was bombed in Auckland harbour on July 11, 1985, killing Pereira.

It was later revealed France's then-president François Mitterand personally authorised the attack on the ship that had led the Greenpeace campaign against French nuclear tests on Mururoa Atoll.

The videotapes had remained in the High Court at Auckland.

The agents have since written books in which they described the experience of going up in court, and neither said it was humiliating or debasing.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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