Gothenburg (dpa) – A judgment is expected today in the process of exploring the wreck of the Baltic Sea ferry “Estonia”, which sank in 1994. For a TV documentary about the accident, two Swedes lowered a diving robot to the wreck in 2019 – and made sensational finds. Among other things, the documentary filmmakers discovered a hole in the ship’s hull several meters wide.
They were initially acquitted in 2021 of the charge that the dive had violated the grave peace of the “Estonia”. According to the court, their actions were punishable under Swedish law, but a conviction was not possible because they had launched the diving robot from a German-flagged ship in international waters. Unlike Sweden and other countries bordering the Baltic Sea, Germany had not signed a peace agreement. An appeals court saw things differently and returned the case to the first instance in Gothenburg, which is now deciding again.
The “Estonia” sank in 1994 with 989 people on board on the way from Tallinn to Stockholm off the south coast of Finland. 852 people died, only 137 survived. Because many of the dead could not be recovered, the wreck is protected as a resting place and may not be visited.
The sinking is considered the worst ship disaster in post-war Europe. According to the official investigation report from 1997, the torn off bow visor was the cause of the sinking. To this day, however, there are doubts about this. Following the revelations in the television documentary, Sweden has introduced legislative changes to allow authorities to investigate the finds more closely.
© dpa-infocom, dpa:220904-99-631883/5