In light of the most recent Paris attacks we thought it relevant to remind readers of France’s record of state terrorism, the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior being one of the most heinous examples. (BSNews co-editor, Alison Banville):
The French naval frogman who sank the Greenpeace boat Rainbow Warrior in New Zealand in July 1985, causing the death of photographer Fernando Pereira, has spoken publicly for the first time. Jean-Luc Kister, who was ordered to sink the boat that took part in protests against France’s nuclear tests in the Pacific, has given a long interview to Mediapart’s editor-in-chief, Edwy Plenel, the journalist who broke the story of French involvement in the attack 30 years ago. This interview is published simultaneously with a public apology given by Kister on New Zealand state television.
Thirty years after the events, now that emotions have calmed, and also with the hindsight I have regarding my professional life, I thought that this was a chance for me to express both my deepest regrets and my apologies,” said Jean-Luc Kister. “First of all to Fernando Pereira’s family, in particular his daughter Marelle, for what I call an accidental death and what they consider to be an assassination. I also wanted to apologise to the members of Greenpeace who were aboard the Rainbow Warrior that night. And then to the people of New Zealand which, it must not be forgotten, is a friendly and ally nation in which we conducted an inappropriate clandestine operation.” From Mediapart
“We had to obey orders, we were soldiers.”
The French secret-service agent who led an attack on a Greenpeace ship that killed photographer Fernando Pereira 30 years ago has apologized publicly for the first time
Speaking to the New Zealand station TVNZ on Sunday, Jean-Luc Kister said now was the right time to apologize to Pereira and his family for what he said was an “accident.”
“Now that emotions have calmed, and also with the hindsight I have regarding my professional life, I thought that this was a chance for me to express both my deepest regrets and my apologies,” Kister told TVNZ.
On July 10, 1985, Greenpeace activists on board the Rainbow Warrior, which was moored in Auckland, were preparing to sail to French Polynesia to protest against French nuclear testing on Mururoa atoll.
In what the BBC called one of the most notorious acts of state sabotage, Kister and his 12-man team, who were working for the French spy agency DGSE, planted two mines on the vessel. The explosions sank the Rainbow Warrior and killed Portuguese photographer Pereira.
Kister said that it was not his team’s intention to kill anybody in the attack. “I have the blood of an innocent man on my conscience, and that weighs on me,” he told French investigative site Mediapart.
Kister said the mission, which was ordered by then French Defense Minister Charles Hernu was “disproportionate” and “an unfair clandestine operation conducted in an allied, friendly and peaceful country.”
But, he pointed out, “We had to obey orders, we were soldiers.”
Greenpeace said in a statement that the apology “will not bring Fernando back but proves once again that our colleague was sacrificed in the name of a state interest that even one of the state’s servants is calling into question.”
Two other agents who took part, Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur, were arrested in New Zealand two days after the attack and sentenced to 10 years in jail for manslaughter. They were transferred to French Polynesia as part of a settlement and released two years later.
France paid $8.2 million in damages to Greenpeace and in 1996 stopped the nuclear testing that the activist group protested.