Rainbow Warrior sinking: what happened to Greenpeace ship - is Murder in the Pacific a true story?
Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior was sunk in a bombing since described ‘as an act of state sponsored terrorism’
and live on Freeview channel 276
The true crime documentary will feature those involved in the operation, and the investigation into it which revealed that French authorities were responsible for the bombing and sinking of the boat.
The incident became an international affair, and one of the biggest scandals of French president François Mitterrand’s 15 year premiership. It also led to the resignation of French Defence Minister Charles Hernu.
What happened to the Rainbow Warrior ship?
Rainbow Warrior was the flagship of the Greenpeace fleet - the ship, built in Scotland in 1955 was purchased by Greenpeace UK in 1977 for £37,000 (equivalent to £317,000 today) and was involved in campaigns against whaling, seal hunting, nuclear testing and nuclear waste dumping.
The Rainbow Warrior was sunk in 1985 by French authorities, resulting in the death of a photographer on board. The operation to sink the ship, codenamedOpération Satanique, was a state bombing mission.
Two agents of the French foreign intelligence agency sank the ship at the Port of Auckland, New Zealand where it was planning to lead a flotilla for a protest against a planned French nuclear test in Moruroa, French Polynesia.
Two limpet mines were attached to the ship and detonated seven minutes apart. Some crew members remained on the ship after the first explosion and several crew were thrown into the water by the second detonation.
Fernando Pereira, a photographer, was on the ship attempting to retrieve his equipment when it was sunk, and he drowned in the event. French authorities denied responsibility for the sinking at first, but the two agents were captured by New Zealand police and charged with arson and murder.
The agents pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were sentenced to 10 years in prison - they spent two years on the island of Hao before they were freed by the French government. The bombing of the ship has since been described as an act of state sponsored terrorism.
Damage to the ship was too extensive for repairs to be carried out - the Rainbow Warrior was scuttled in Matauri Bay, New Zeland in 1987 where it serves as an artificial reef to promote marine life. A second ship names the Rainbow Warrior was purchased two years later, whilst a third was launched in 2011.
Is Murder in the Pacific a true story?
The documentary series Murder in the Pacific is a true story which follows the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior and the investigation into those involved.
The series explores how a group of detectives who had never before worked on cases of international crime managed to trace highly trained military saboteurs. During the course of the investigation, the identities of a Swiss couple come under doubt when they are able to answer questions about themselves.
One of the bombers also speaks in the documentary, explaining how he came to be involved in the plot, and how he began to question the legitimacy of his orders when he learned that a man had died in the operation.
When is Murder in the Pacific on TV?
Murder in the Pacific is a three-part BBC Two documentary series. The first episode will air at 9pm on Thursday 2 March, with episodes airing at the same time weekly. Episodes will be available to watch on BBC iPlayer shortly after they are first broadcast.