Today, the Riigikogu held a deliberation of the matter of significant national importance “The sinking of the ferry ‘Estonia’ – will the truth surface eventually?”, initiated by the Estonian Conservative People’s Party faction.
Survivor of the Estonia disaster Ain-Alar Juhanson, Chairman of the Government committee of investigation on the sinking of the ferry Estonia in 2005–2009 Margus Kurm and member of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party faction Kalle Grünthal delivered reports at the sitting.
In his report, Ain-Alar Juhanson spoke of the shipwreck and surviving it. Juhanson, who was 17 and going to a sports competition in 1994, recalled how he and his companions had started climbing to the upper decks from their cabin under the car deck after hearing a bang and seeing water coming in through the walls. Finally, he and one companion reached the bow of the ship on the outer side of the careening ship. “We reached the bow of the ship and saw there a metal wall with lattice, which was the ramp of the ship, and it was closed. This is a fact that is not recorded in the final report. “I have said this to three investigators, I do not know why, but it is not recorded there. The final report says something else – and who knows what is the reason for that,” Juhanson said.
Juhanson and his companion jumped into the water. They found a life raft, where they spent six hours before they were rescued by a helicopter in the morning. “There were six persons on the raft, and all who were on the raft came out of that night alive,” Juhanson said.
Juhanson affirmed in his report that no pressure had been exerted on him when speaking of that issue and he had never been recommended not to mention some things. “It is my own free will and decision and moral obligation to speak about it,” Juhanson said.
Juhanson thinks that the possible new investigation should be conducted in as transparent, public, clear, unambiguous way as possible, and be accessible to everybody. He expressed hope that it was a topic where it would be possible to discard everyday disagreements in order to ascertain something very important together.
In his report, Margus Kurm told about three views on the MS Estonia disaster. He said that one of them was loyal to the official version, and according to it, the final report of the international joint committee, published in 1997, contains the final and exhaustive truth about the reasons of the shipwreck.
As regards the second view, Kurm said it was diplomatically sceptical, and according to it, the work of the investigative committee was defective and therefore the reason of the disaster was not yet clear.
According to the third view, Estonia did not sink in the way it is described in the final report, and the real reason of the disaster is known, but it has been hidden for 26 years, and it is planned to hide it also in the future. Kurm added that he himself shared the third view. “I really believe that Estonia was sunk by an event that the Swedish government circles have decided to hide under the pretext of defending the security of the state. What event it is, I do not know. But it has to be connected with the activities of the Swedish defence forces and/or special service. Only the influence of the defence forces and special services, including their influence over politicians, can explain the activities of the Swedish government in the 26 years following the disaster. In my opinion, these activities have been irrational and insensitive,” Kurm said.
Kurm pointed out that if the sand and gravel around the wreck were removed and the wreck was filmed and all damage to it was recorded, thoroughly studied, and different formation mechanisms were modelled, it would be possible to reach some conclusions. “For example, a conclusion that this ferry has collided with something, and that something could have been a submarine. When we have reached this knowledge, then we can also pose questions to the Swedish side,” Kurm said.
He added that this could motivate some people who knew more than others to make their knowledge public. “Even if it is so that the truth is in an archive, behind seven locks, then increasing knowledge may take us forward. Even very secret and cleverly committed crimes are sometimes discovered,” Kurm noted.
Kalle Grünthal said in his report that re-opening the investigation of the sinking of the passenger ferry Estonia was one of the most important national matters discussed in the Riigikogu hall. He emphasised that it was necessary to start acting strongly to identify the causes of the disaster and all the circumstances of its happening. “And to identify the circle of persons whose activities or inactivity was the reason behind the deadliest peacetime shipwreck,” he added.
Grünthal said that the final report on the sinking of Estonia was defective from every aspect, and all evidence indicated that the investigation committee had not done its work in the way the logical approach to any kind of investigation requires. “It has been attempted to hide the truth, and the Estonians, the Estonian side have been ignored in several activities. The whole truth about which materials there are is not published. I find that it is our moral duty to start the investigation again, and I do not see, I cannot give any justification about the legislation or law that can prohibit this,” he stated.
Marika Tuus-Laul (Centre Party) and Yoko Alender (Reform Party) took the floor during the debate.
Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian)
Photos of the sitting (Erik Peinar, Riigikogu)
The video recording of the sitting is available to watch on-demand on the Riigikogu YouTube channel.
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