Government misses deadline for new Estonia ferry investigation decision

The 'Broken Line' monument in Tallinn.
The 'Broken Line' monument in Tallinn. Source: Jan Pohunek/Creative Commons

The Estonian government is yet to decide about whether to open a new investigation into the causes of the sinking of the ferry Estonia and come up with a response to the victims' relatives seeking a new probe, in spite of a ruling by the Tallinn Administrative Court from last fall obliging the government to decide about the matter by January 25, newspaper Postimees reported.

"The government has not yet taken a stance on how to resolve the request that served as basis for the court dispute," the government's communication director Urmas Seaver said.

"The government has discussed the topic of the Estonia disaster and the decision of the Tallinn Administrative Court at a Cabinet sitting and will continue discussions," Seaver said.

It is not yet certain whether the item will be on the agenda of the government's next Cabinet sitting on Thursday. For a decision to be made, relevant materials have to be submitted to the government by the Ministry of Economic Affairs ad Communications. Spokespeople at the ministry said the materials are ready for forwarding to the Cabinet.   

Piret Blankin, the attorney representing relatives of the ferry disaster victims, said that unless the government fulfills the court's decisions shortly, they will turn to the court again. 

"It is possible to seek the imposition of a fine via court," the attorney said, adding that the size of the fine will be determined by the court. 

Blankin also said she doesn't believe, however, that a fine would make the government act faster. 

"Maybe it reminds them about it, at least," she said. "We went to court because nothing was done. The same course of action continues, which is deeply regrettable."

Spokesperson for the Tallinn court Anneli Vilu told Postimees that since the court is not keeping track of the fulfilment of court decisions, the victims' next-of-kin should formally notify the court that their application has not been responded to and a court decision has hence not been fulfilled.

Saturday, September 28 marked the 25th anniversary of the MS Estonia disaster when 852 died after a ferry travelling between Stockholm and Tallinn sank during a storm. A new investigation is being sought by victims' next-of-kin.

In total 989 people were on board the MS Estonia ferry and 137 people survived. Only 95 bodies were recovered. The ferry sank in the Baltic Sea between 0:55 a.m. and 2:03 a.m in 1994. 

The Estonia ferry. Source: ERR


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Editor: Helen Wright

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