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Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior

The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior , codenamed Operation Satanic , [1] was a bombing operation by the “action” branch of the French foreign intelligence services , the Directorate General of External Security ( DGSE ), carried out on July 10, 1985. During The operation, two operatives sank the flagship of the Greenpeace fleet, the Rainbow Warrior in the port of Auckland , New Zealand on a way to a protest against a planned French nuclear test in Moruroa .Fernando Pereira , a photographer, drowned on the sinking ship.

They are captured by the United States, and they are captured by New Zealand Police and charged with arson, conspiracy to commit arson, willful damage , and murder. As the truth came out, the scandal resulted in the resignation of the French Defense Minister Charles Hernu .

The two agents pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were sentenced to ten years in prison. They spend just over two years in the French island of Hao before being freed by the French government. [2]

Several figures, including then New Zealand Prime Minister David Lange , have referred to the bombing as an act of terrorism [3] or state-sponsored terrorism . [4] [5] [6]

Sinking of the ship

French agents posing as interested supporters or tourists toured the ship while it was open to public viewing. DGSE agent Christine Cabon, posing as environmentalist Frederique Bonlieu, volunteered to work in the Greenpeace office in Auckland. Cabon “was no ordinary lieutenant … a veteran of many dangerous intelligence missions in the Middle East, particularly in Lebanon.” [7] Cabon secretly monitored communications from the Rainbow Warrior , collected maps, and investigated underwater equipment, in order to provide crucial information to the sinking.

Two different DGSEs, Jacques Camurier and Alain Tonel, attached two mines to the Rainbow Warrior berthed at Marsden Wharf. They were detonated 10 minutes apart. [8] The first bomb went off at 23:38, blasting a hole about the size of an average car. Agents wanted the first mine to be removed so that it would be evacuated safely by the time the second mine was detonated. However, the crew did not react to the first explosion as the agents had expected. While the ship was initially evacuated, some of the crew returned to the ship to investigate and film the damage. A Portuguese-Dutch photographer, Fernando Pereira, back below decks to fetch his camera equipment. At 23:45, the second bomb went off. Pereira drowned in the rapid flooding that followed, and the other ten crew members were either thrown into the water by Captain Peter Willcox or were thrown into the water by the second explosion. The rainbow warriorsank four minutes later.

France implicated

Operation Satanic was a public relations disaster. France, being an ally of New Zealand, initially denied involvement and joined in condemning what a terrorist act . The French Embassy in Wellingtondenied involvement, stating that “the French Government does not deal with its opponents in such ways”. [9]

After the bombing, the New Zealand Police started one of the country’s largest police investigations. Captain Dominique Prieur and Commander Alain Mafart have been identified as possible suspects. Posing as the married couple Sophie and Alain Turenge, Prior and Mafart were identified with the help of a Neighborhood Watch group, and arrested. Both were questioned and investigated. Because they have been carrying Swiss passports , their true identities have been discovered, along with the French government’s responsibility.

Three other officers, Chief Petty Officer Roland Verge, Petty Officer Bartelo and Petty Officer Gérard Andries, Who Sailed to New Zealand on the yacht Ouvea , Were arrêté by Australian Police were Norfolk Island , intended released as Australian law Did not allow ’em to be Held until the results of forensic tests cam back. They were then picked up by the French submarine Rubis , which scuttledthe Ouvea . [10]

A sixth agent, Louis-Pierre Dillais , command of the operation, was never captured and never faced charges. He admitted his involvement in an interview with the New Zealand state broadcaster TVNZin 2005. [11]

Once It was Realized que la bombing Was the actions of the government of a friendly state, the New Zealand government stopped referring to it as a “terrorist act”, INSTEAD calling it “a criminal attack in breach of the international law of state responsibility , committed on New Zealand sovereign territory “. The “breach of international law” has been referred to the United Statesin order to dissuade any arguments from the French government that might imply justification for their act. quote needed ]

More than 30 years on, TVNZ’s Sunday program tracked down the French spy who planted the bombs. Jean Camas, who retired from the DGSE in about 2000, confessed to planting both bombs on the hull of the ship. After the bombing on July 10, Camas, using the cameraman Jacques Camurier, and later in the South Island, went to the Hutt , and then left the country. Reporter John HudsonCamas in France, said that Camas “Wanted to talk about his role in the bombing …” ‘, but he is talking, I think he wanted to be understood. ” Camas considered the mission “a big, big failure”. [12]

Prieur and Mafart pleaded guilty to manslaughter and sentenced This to 10 years Were s doing is 22 November 1985. France threatened This year economic embargo of New Zealand’s exports to the European Economic Community if the pair Were not released. [13] Such an action would have crippled the New Zealand economy , which was dependent on agricultural exports to the United Kingdom. quote needed ]

To the commission of inquiry headed by Bernard Tricot  ( fr ) cleared the French government of any involvement, claiming that the arrested agents, who had not yet pleaded guilty, had actually been spying on Greenpeace. When The Times and the World claimed that President Mitterrand had approved the bombing, Defense Minister Charles Hernu resigned and the head of the DGSE, Admiral Pierre Lacoste  ( en ) , was fired. Eventually Prime Minister Laurent FabiusThe 200-word statement in which he said: “The truth is cruel,” and there was a cover-up; he went on to say that “Agents of the French secret service sank this boat. [14]


Nuclear testing

In the wake of the bombing, a flotilla of private New Zealand yachts sailed to Moruroa to protest against a French nuclear test.

At that time, French nuclear tests in the Pacific were halted. However, another series of tests was conducted in 1995. [15]

Greenpeace and the Rainbow Warrior 

A Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior Benefit concert at Mt. Smart Stadium , Auckland, on 5 April 1986 included performances by Herbs , Neil Young , Jackson Browne , Nash Graham , Topp Twins, Dave Dobbyn and a Split Enz reunion. [16] [17]

The Rainbow Warrior was refloated for forensic examination. She was deemed irreparable and scuttled at 34.9748 ° S 173.9349 ° E in Matauri Bay , near the Cavalli Islands , on December 12, 1987, to serve as a dive wreck and fish sanctuary. [18] Her masts had been removed and put on display at the Dargaville Maritime Museum .

On 14 October 2011, Greenpeace launched a new sailing vessel called Rainbow Warrior III , which is equipped with an auxiliary electric motor. [19]


In 1987, after international pressure, France paid $ 8.16m to Greenpeace in damages, which helped finance another ship. [20] [21] [20] [21] It also paid compensation to the Pereira family, reimbursing his life insurance company for 30,000 guilders and making reparation payments of 650,000 francs to Pereira’s wife, 1.5 million francs to his two children, and 75,000 francs to each of his parents. . [22]

Foreign relations

The failure of Western leaders to condemn this violation of a friendly nation’s sovereignty caused a great deal of change in New Zealand’s foreign and defense policy. [23] New Zealand distanced itself from its traditional ally, the United States, and built relationships with small South Pacific nations, while retaining excellent relations with Australia and, to a lesser extent, the United Kingdom. [24]

In June 1986, Prime Minister of New Zealand David Lange , United Nations Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar , France agreed to pay NZ $ 13 million (US $ 6.5 million) to New Zealand and apologize, in return for which Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur would be detained at the French military base on Hao Atollfor three years. However, the two agents had both returned to France by May 1988, after less than two years on the atoll. Mafart returned to Paris on December 14, 1987 for medical treatment, and was apparently freed after treatment. He continued in the French Army and was promoted to colonel in 1993. Prior to his return to France on May 6, 1988 because he was pregnant, his husband was allowed to join her on the atoll. She, too, was freed and later promoted. The removal of the agents from Hao without subsequent return was violated by the 1986 agreement. [2]

Following the breach of the arrangement, in 1990 the secretary-general awarded NZ $ 3.5 million (US $ 2 million), to establish the New Zealand / France Friendship Fund. [21] Although France had formally apologized to the New Zealand Government in 1986, [25] during a visit in April 1991 Prime Minister Michel Rocard delivered a personal apology. [26] [27] He said it was “to turn the page in the relationship and to say, if we had not known”. The Friendship Fund has contributed to a number of charity and public purposes. [28] During a visit in 2016, French Prime MinisterManuel Valls reiterated that the incident had been “a serious error”. [29]

Further investigations

In 2005, French newspaper The World released a report from 1986 which said that Admiral Pierre Lacoste  ( en ) , head of DGSE at the time, had “personally obtained approval to sink the ship from the late president Francois Mitterrand .” Soon after the publication, to train Admiral Lacoste came forward with interviews about the situation, admitting that the death weighed on his conscience and saying that the aim of the operation had not been to kill. [30] He acknowledged the existence of three teams: the yacht crew, recognition and logistics (those successfully prosecuted), and a two-man team that carried out the bombing. [8] [31]

A 20th anniversary memorial edition of the 1986 book Eyes of Fire: The Last Voyage of the Rainbow Warrior by New Zealand author David Robie – Who Was aboard the ship bombed – was published in July 2005. [32]

The French agents

Twenty years after the bombing, Television New Zealand (TVNZ). The footage had just closed after the conclusion of the criminal proceedings. The two agents Opposed release of the footage, DESPITE HAVING Both books written on the incident-and unsuccessfully Took The box to the New Zealand Court of Appeal and, subsequently, the Supreme Court of New Zealand . On August 7, 2006, Hammond, O’Regan and Arnold judges dismissed the agents. [33]

In 2006, Antoine Royal revealed that his brother, Gerard Royal , had claimed to be involved in planting the bomb. Their sister is a French Socialist Party politician Ségolène Royal who was contesting the French presidential election . [34] [35] Other sources identified Royal as merely a Zodiac pilot, [36] and the New Zealand government announced there would be no extradition request since the case was closed. [37]

In 1993, Louis-Pierre Dillais was appointed to an espionage position in the office of Defense Minister Francois Leotard . [38] He later est devenu year executive in the US subsidiary of Belgian arms manufacturer FN Herstal and as of May 2007 Lived in Virginia in the United States. [11] In 2007 the New Zealand Green Party criticized the government over its purchase of arms from FN Herstal. [39] At that time, Greenpeace was still pursuing the extradition of Dillais for his involvement in the act. [40]

Jean-Luc Kister, leader of the French operation, spoke to TVNZ in 2015 admitting his lead role and feelings of responsibility for the lethal attack. He also pointed to the French President, as commander of the armed forces and intelligence services assigned to the operation. [41] [42]

See also

  • Rainbow Warrior (1955)
  • Rainbow Warrior Case (international law)
  • The Rainbow Warrior Conspiracy (1988)
  • The Rainbow Warrior (movie)
  • Legend of the Rainbow Warriors
  • New Zealand nuclear-free zone
  • Xavier Maniguet


  1. Jump up^ Bremner, Charles (11 July 2005). “Mitterrand ordered bombing of Rainbow Warrior, spy chief says” . The Times . London . Retrieved 16 November2006 .
  2. ^ Jump up:b “Case concerning the difference between New Zealand and France concerning the interpretation or application of two agreements, concluded on 9 July 1986 between the two states and which related to the problems arising from the Rainbow Warrior Affair” (PDF ) . Reports of International Arbitral Awards . XX : 215-284, especially p 275. April 30, 1990.
  3. Jump up^ Brown, Paul; Evans, Rob (23 August 2005). “How Rainbow Warrior was played down” . The Guardian . Retrieved 3 September 2017 .
  4. Jump up^ Page, Campbell; Templeton, Ian (September 24, 1985). “French inquiry into Rainbow Warrior Bombing” . The Guardian . Retrieved 3 September2017 .
  5. Jump up^ “Reality Behind the Rainbow Warrior Outrage” . The New Zealand Herald . 2 July 2005 . Retrieved 2 September 2017 .
  6. Jump up^ Conte, Alex (2010). Human Rights in the Prevention and Punishment of Terrorism: Commonwealth Approaches: United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand . Springer Science & Business Media. p. 86. ISBN  9783642116087 .
  7. Jump up^ The French Government and Greenpeace Agents back in court on Friday The Canberra Times , 20 November 1985, atTrove
  8. ^ Jump up to:b “At the end of the Rainbow” . New Zealand Herald. Jul 8, 2015 . Retrieved 27 July 2016 .
  9. Jump up^ Diary compiled by Mike Andrews (Secretary of the Dargaville Maritime Museum)
  10. Jump up^ “The Bombing of the Warrior” . Rainbow Warrior home page . Greenpeace . Archived from the original on 10 March 2012 . Retrieved November 4, 2014 .
  11. ^ Jump up to:b Goldenberg, Suzanne (25 May 2007) “Rainbow Warrior ringleader heads firm selling arms to US government” . guardian.co.uk , Retrieved 26 May 2007
  12. Jump up^ Taylor, Phil (September 6, 2015). “Rainbow Warrior bomber finally unmasked” . NZ Herald . Retrieved September 6, 2015 .
  13. Jump up^ Shabecoff, Philip (3 October 1987). “France Must Pay Greenpeace $ 8 Million in Sinking of Ship” . New York Times . Retrieved 11 April 2010 .
  14. Jump up^ Evening Mail– Monday, September 23, 1985
  15. Jump up^ “Fifth French nuclear test sparks international outrage” . CNN . December 28, 1995 . Retrieved 13 June 2010 .
  16. Jump up^ “Rainbow Warrior music festival” . NZHistory . History Group of the New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 17 April 2014 .
  17. Jump up^ “Rainbow Warrior concert 1986” . Frenz Forum . July 14, 2006 . Retrieved 17 April 2014 .
  18. Jump up^ “Wreck to reef-the transfiguration of the Rainbow Warrior” . New Zealand Geographic (023). Jul-Sep 1994 . Retrieved 30 October 2012 .
  19. Jump up^ Rainbow Warrior Greenpeace International, October 2011. Accessed 10 February 2015
  20. Jump up^ Willsher, Kim (6 September 2015). “French Spy who sank Greenpeace ship apologized for lethal bombing” . The Guardian . Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  21. ^ Jump up to:b Boczek, Boleslaw Adam (2005). International Law: A Dictionary . Maryland: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 97. ISBN  0-8108-5078-8 . Retrieved 7 May 2016 .
  22. Jump up^ REPORTS OF INTERNATIONAL ARBITRAL AWARDS: Case concerning the differences between New Zealand and France arising from the Rainbow Warrior affair (PDF) . United Nations. July 6, 1986. pp. 199-221 . Retrieved 7 May 2016 .
  23. Jump up^ Keith Sinclair,A History of New Zealand Penguin Books, New Zealand, 1991
  24. Jump up^ Nuclear Free: The New Zealand Way, The Right HonorableDavid Lange, Penguin Books, New Zealand, 1990
  25. Jump up^ “Send PM Letters of Apology”. Auckland Star . Auckland. July 23, 1986.
  26. Jump up^ Armstrong, John (2 July 2005). “Reality Behind the Rainbow Warrior Outrage” . New Zealand Herald . Retrieved 7 May 2016 .
  27. Jump up^ Bar-Siman-Tov, Ya’akov (2004). From Conflict Resolution to Reconciliation . Oxford University Press. p. 190. ISBN  0-19-516643-4 . Retrieved 7 May 2016 .
  28. Jump up^ “Kokako Chick Thrives Thanks to Rainbow Warrior Bombers” . New Zealand Herald . NZME Publishing Limited. 8 July 2008 . Retrieved 8 May2016 .
  29. Jump up^ Young, Audrey (2 May 2016). “France reaches out for Kiwi friendship” . New Zealand Herald . Retrieved 7 May 2016 .
  30. Jump up^ Simons, Marlise. “Report Says Mitterrand Approved Sinking of Greenpeace Ship” . The Guardian . Retrieved 1 November 2013 .
  31. Jump up^ Field, Catherine (30 June 2005). ” ‘ Third team’ in Rainbow Warrior plot”. New Zealand Herald . Retrieved 6 June 2010 .
  32. Jump up^ “Eyes of Fire: The Last Voyage of the Rainbow Warrior” . Auckland University Press . July 15, 2005. ISBN  9781877314469 . Retrieved 6 June2010 .
  33. Jump up^ Transcript Prior Mafart v TVNZ, PDF document, 195Kb, 22 November 2005, Retrieved 22 September 2010
  34. Jump up^ NZH Staff (30 September 2006). “Presidential hopeful’s brother linked to Rainbow Warrior bomb” . nzherald.co.nz . Retrieved 1 October 2006 .
  35. Jump up^ “NZ rules out new Rainbow Warrior probe” . Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 1 October 2006 . Retrieved 1 October 2006 .
  36. Jump up^ Secret wars at the Élysée, by Paul Barril, Michel Albin ed, Paris (1996)
  37. Jump up^ Kay, Martin (2 October 2006). “French frogman slips the net; Paper identifies bomber, but PM says the case will remain closed”. The Dominion Post . pp. A1.
  38. Jump up^ In Brief: Once a Spy … The Canberra Times , June 24, 1993, atTrove
  39. Jump up^ NZ trades with Arms Company whose chief executive was a leader in the Rainbow Warrior bombingNZ Green PartyJust Peacenewsletter No 110, 18 May 2007. Retrieved 21 February 2015
  40. Jump up^ Greenpeace gunning for the warrior leaderStuff.co.nz, Retrieved 26 May 2007 [ dead link ]
  41. Jump up^ “Greenpeace New Zealand Rainbow Warrior Bomber Apologize – BBC News” . Retrieved 2015-09-07 .
  42. Jump up^ Neuman, Susan (6 September 2015). “French Agent Apologizes For Blowing Up Greenpeace Ship In 1985” . NPR . Retrieved 8 September2015 .

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