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French minister vows to find killer ship

Published on 20/01/2004

PARIS, Jan 20 (AFP) - French Transport Minister Gilles de Robien on Tuesday vowed to identify a cargo ship which is believed to have been involved in a hit and run accident that sank a French trawler off southern England, killing all five sailors aboard.

De Robien said the trawler, Bugaled Breizh, which went down off Lizard Point in southwestern England last Thursday, was believed to have been hit by a container ship.

Speaking on Europe 1 radio station, the minister said the French authorities wanted to “find and severely punish” the rogue vessel.

“In all European ports we are going to look at all the boats which arrive and we will necessarily, and I hope speedily, find marks on the aggressor,” he said.

A French prosecutor investigating the accident said on Monday that underwater pictures taken of the wrecked fishing boat indicated it had been rammed by a large vessel before it went down.

The boat was in an area where multinational naval exercises were being held but prosecutor Roland Eisch said the positions of all the warships had been determined and they could not have been responsible.

He said the trawler appeared to have been rammed towards the bow, probably by a container ship travelling at a good speed. The collision was “very violent”, he said, citing photographic images captured on underwater cameras at the scene.

The Bugaled Breizh operated out of the Brittany port of Loctudy. The bodies of two of the crew have been found but the three others remain missing. Eisch said he would start a judicial investigation.


                                Subject: France news