The Sinking of the Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior Ship

The Rainbow Warrior was a Greenpeace ship, used to protest against a number of activities, from seal and whale hunting to nuclear weapons testing during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1985, while France was releasing atmospheric nuclear tests in French Polynesia, the Rainbow Warrior was laying in harbour in New Zealand to sail until the nuclear site and protest against the tests. Indeed, the presence of boats on site is forbidden during nuclear tests, and can thus prevent government to pursue their action. Yet, on July 10th 1985, in order to prevent any interference of Greenpeace in its tests, a team of French intelligence agents sabotaged and sank the boat, killing one of the activistic Francisco Pereira, a Dutch photographer of Portuguese origin. Two of the secret agents were arrested in New Zealand and sentenced to ten year’s imprisonment. An international legal dispute arose between France and New Zealand, and the scandal lead to the resignation of the French Defence Minister,
Charles Hernu. An international arbitration trial ordered France to pay $8.1 million in damages to Greenpeace.


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