ERR in Stockholm: Sweden Remembers Estonia Ferry Tragedy, Calls for New Investigation (1)
The Estonia ferry tragedy, which took place 20 years ago today, was not only hard on an Estonian nation that had only just started rebuilding its independent structures, but it was Sweden which lost the most citizens - 501 of the 852 who died that day.
A ceremony was held at the Estonia ferry disaster monument on Djurgården island in Stockholm on Sunday, followed by a service at the Sofia church.
Representatives from all 17 nations that suffered deaths in the disaster were invited to the ceremony, with Carl XVI Gustaf, the king of Sweden, and the nation's defense minister in attendance.
“Compared to remembrance events in Estonia, Swedes focus more on Swedish citizens who lost their lives on the Estonia. Only Swedish flags are on display here and the entire ceremony is in Swedish,” Priit Rajalo told ERR radio on Sunday.
The head of the representatives of the families of the deceased said the Estonian and Swedish governments should be pressured to reopen an investigation, said Rajalo. Rajalo said that would not necessarily mean lifting the wreckage - something both families and the shipping company Estline originally called for - but a investigation using modern cameras and technology.
The official investigation, which found structural problems and a slow response by crew - after the locks of the bow visor broke, it repeatedly struck a lip at the top of the watertight ramp, nudging it open and causing water to pour in on to the car deck.
The ship builder, Meyer Werft, fought back, suggesting the investigation was a coverup, wrote William Langewiesche in "The Outlaw Sea: A World of Freedom, Chaos, and Crime."
More controversially, German investigative journalist Jutta Rabe conducted a diving expedition that, she said, found traces of an explosion. Rabe's book on the alleged cover-up was later adapted for a sensationalist 2003 feature film, however, which significantly dented its credibility.
A few years later, a former Swedish customs chief said during the 10th anniversary of the disaster that the ship had been used to carry Soviet military equipment to Sweden, which prompted plans for a new Swedish investigation.
The mainstream media continues to discount such reports and testimony as conspiracy theories.