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Schapelle Corby and the Rainbow Warrior

While I am not obsessed with the Schapelle Corby case, I can't help but revisit the subject after hearing a report on Radio National's PM recently. It concerns the administration of justice, and the ability of an foreign country to affect the course of justice in the country where a crime is committed. It involves state sponsored terrorism, murder, and the use of financial threats to have the perpetrators freed.

On 13th July 1985 French secret service agents bombed and sank the Rainbow Warrior at its berth in Auckland Harbour, killing the Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira. Although there were more agents involved, two faced justice in New Zealand. Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieu pleaded guilty to manslaughter, and were sentenced to ten years imprisonment. The French Government then applied economic pressure on New Zealand, and paid both the new Zealand Government and Greenpeace millions of dollars in recompense. Six months into the prison sentence, the agents were transferred to Hao Atoll in July 1986, where they were supposed to serve out the remainder of the ten years, but within two years they returned to France, where they were decorated for their crimes.

There is, of course no real link to the Schapelle Corby case. She was convicted for a relatively minor crime by world standards, and may yet serve twenty years behind bars. The French agents were terrorists and murderers, and their crime was serious enough to facilitate economic pressure and bastardy to get their release. What does this prove? Not much, and alas nothing to help Corby, but it does show that all the posturing about respecting the laws of another country and their sentencing laws can be laid aside if the economically stronger of the parties decides to exercise their power. And one of the most civilized countries in the world is happy to have these murderers walking the streets.

Footage shot during the trial of the agents has been obtained by TVNZ, and is expected to be shown to New Zealand viewers in the near future. This footage has never been seen by the public, and apparently the agents are concerned that the airing of the trial may damage their reputation. Let's hope so!

Posted: Thu - September 21, 2006 at 04:46 PM      
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