New Zealand wants more answers to French role in bombing of Greenpeace ship [BY]By David Barber, Special to The Christian Science Monitor
Wellington, New Zealand
For New Zealand, the Greenpeace affair is far from over. New Zealand Prime Minister David Lange welcomed the French government's admission Sunday that it ordered the bombing of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior, which was sunk in Auckland harbor July 10, but said there were still questions to be answered. New Zealand wants to know who in the French government actually ordered the attack, and who funded it. Until such questions are answered, relations between the two countries will remain severely strained.Skip to next paragraph
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Two French secret service agents are awaiting trial in New Zealand and face mandatory life sentences if convicted of murder. (A Rainbow Warrior crew member was killed in the explosion.)
New Zealand has notified France it will seek substantial compensation for Greenpeace and exemplary damages for invasion of its sovereignty. Mr. Lange will not name a figure, but says he is thinking in terms of millions of dollars.
Lange has indicated that he expects the French to make a formal apology for the attack and to offer reparations later this week.
France's admission of responsibility for the bombing came from Prime Minister Laurent Fabius after weeks of denials and an official report clearing the French government and its secret service of involvement.
Lange deplored a statement by Mr. Fabius that the guilty would not be named or brought to justice because they were acting under orders. He called the statement ``provocative and inflammatory.'' Such a stand could only be defended if the two countries were at war, he implied. If this became the state of affairs that governed the international relationships between countries, Lange said, sheer anarchy would result. ``That is exactly the sort of barbarity which we retreated from some thousands of years ag o.''
Relations between the two countries have steadily deteriorated over the incident, with anti-French feeling running high in this country. Many New Zealanders remember sending troops off to defend France in two world wars.
French President Franois Mitterrand called off a visit to Paris by New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer (scheduled long before the bombing), after Palmer had described the attack as the ``most frightful incursion on New Zealand sovereignty in the history of this country.'' The New Zealand government has long suspected that the French government was involved in the attack, and Lange believes acceptance of responsibility by Paris has vindicated the strong line he has taken in recent weeks.