The Estonian government decided at a cabinet meeting on Thursday that the minister of justice would form a new working group of experts to address the claims of passengers and the loved ones of the victims of the sinking of the MS Estonia in 1994. The working group is to submit a report on what has been done as well as an overview of planned further actions by the end of March.
"Victims' loved ones have appealed to the Estonian government for a new investigation into the sinking of the Estonia, and prior to giving them a substantive reply, we first want to receive a modern assessment from our top experts regarding the possible launch of a new investigation and factors relating to this," Minister of Justice Raivo Aeg (Isamaa) said.
The working group of experts will be led by the secretary general of the Ministry of Justice and include representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and the Ministry of the Interior, as well as professionally competent experts.
The government also decided that Aeg must provide those seeking that a new investigation into the sinking be launched with a response on behalf of the government regarding what steps are being taken by the government.
Last October, Tallinn Administrative Court ruled that the government must respond to an application for administrative proceedings submitted by Swedish citizens according to which they want a new investigation launched into the sinking of the Estonia.
The government had until January 25 to respond, but was incapable of forming a position by this time.
On Sept. 28, 1994, the ferry Estonia sank while en route from Tallinn to Stockholm, claiming 852 lives. There were only 137 survivors.
The sinking of the Estonia was investigated from 1994-1997 by a joint committee formed by the governments of Estonia, Finland and Sweden, and again from 2005-2009 by a government committee led by the Office of the Prosecutor General.
Estonia, Finland and Sweden signed a treaty guarding the peace of the shipwreck in 1995 which prohibits dives to the wreck, located in international waters.
Editor: Aili Vahtla