NZealand rules out new action on Rainbow Warrior

2nd October 2006, Comments 0 comments

WELLINGTON, Oct 2, 2006 (AFP) - New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark Monday ruled out reopening the Rainbow Warrior bombing case after the brother of French presidential hopeful Ségolène Royal was named as one of the saboteurs.

WELLINGTON, Oct 2, 2006 (AFP) -  New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark Monday ruled out reopening the Rainbow Warrior bombing case after the brother of French presidential hopeful Ségolène Royal was named as one of the saboteurs.

"Were New Zealand now to endeavour to reopen the case, it is likely the French government would consider we were acting contrary to earlier undertakings," Clark told reporters Monday.

"The advice I have from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is that France was held to account for its actions at international law."

Antoine Royal told the French newspaper Le Parisien last week that his brother Gérard planted the bombs that sank the Greenpeace ship in Auckland.

The news came the same day their sister Ségolène Royal formally confirmed she would join the contest for selection as the French Socialist Party's candidate for next year's presidential elections.

In July 1985, French military agents planted mines on the hull of the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbour, causing two explosions which killed Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira.

The Greenpeace ship was due to sail to Mururoa atoll to protest French nuclear testing.

Two French agents — Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur — were arrested after the incident but police never found others involved in the attack.

Mafart and Prieur pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were sentenced to 10 years' jail. They were released into French custody a year later after Paris threatened to block New Zealand trade.

The New Zealand government stayed all outstanding charges over the bombing in 1991 on the grounds of national interest after a French suspect was arrested in Switzerland.

Clark's comments came after New Zealand police said Sunday they would consider reopening the case following the new information.

However, Greenpeace New Zealand executive director Bunny McDiarmid also said reopening the case would be a "fruitless exercise".

"There is very little they can do. I think the New Zealand police which put an enormous effort into tracking down at least two of the agents ... probably feel as disappointed and frustrated as Greenpeace did," McDiarmid said on New Zealand television Monday.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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