Legal representative of the loved ones of victims of the ferry MS Estonia Piret Blankin says that the aim of the agreement for not disturbing the site of the shipwreck is to protect it from looters and that it does not prohibit investigations. Blankin appeared on the “Otse Postimehest” webcast yesterday.
Why is further investigation into the causes of the shipwreck necessary?
I would turn that question around: Why shouldn’t we investigate it? Having knowledge of why a loved one lost their life is an important human right. It’s just like asking why investigate murders as an investigation cannot being the person back. The loved ones have the right to demand an investigation and the state is obligated to provide one.
The ship’s hull has not been recorded. In a situation where an immediate object has not been studied, we cannot draw decisive conclusions as to the causes of the shipwreck. The panel of experts working under Margus Kurm concluded in 2009 that recent investigations cannot disprove alternative scenarios – that the wreck needs to be studied and new investigations launched.
Is it necessary to recover the vessel in order to study it?
We believe there is no reason to recover the wreck of MS Estonia. Study committees have found no credible reason to. Dives should suffice.
The government’s position is that we cannot reopen investigations without new and compelling circumstances coming to light due to an agreement for honoring the dead between Estonia, Sweden and Finland and signed by several other countries from 1995.
The agreement is very short and can easily be found. It was even published in the State Gazette in 1995. It consists of only a few clauses and it states three things. First, the three countries have agreed not to recover the wreck. No further explanation has been given, it’s a single paragraph. Secondly, the site of the shipwreck needs to be paid proper respect. And thirdly, signatories must provide by way of legislation punishments for diving to the wreck with the aim of looting it. The agreement prescribes no obstacles when it comes to determining the state of the wreck and the cause of the ship sinking.
If the agreement only concerns protection from looting, based on what is the government saying they would need to rework the agreement and negotiate with other signatories?
Sweden and Finland need to be consulted, of course.
What I feel is the main question here is whether this government will go down in history as the one to conclusively determine what happened to MS Estonia or the one that decided not to search for evidence when it was still possible just in case.
If at the time of the shipwreck, Estonia perhaps lacked the capacity to determine what happened, it should be possible using modern technology?
It is unlikely a dive could give us all the answers. But the fact remains that the wreck has not been cased in concrete at this time and it would still be possible to find some evidence. At least we could overturn various conspiracy theories.