Prosecutor general: Planned Postimees-backed MS Estonia dive not illegal

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Prosecutor General Andres Parmas. Source: ERR

A private sector-funded dive and investigation of the wreck of the MS Estonia, which sank in 1994 with the loss of 852 lives, does not violate domestic law, the prosecutor general says.

Speaking to Kanal 2 show "Reporter", Prosecutor General Andres Parmas said: "We do not see any elements of criminal acts here, based on the information available at present. There isn't anything unlawful about it from our perspective."

An international grave peace agreement protects the site of the wreck.

Parmas said: "If a private individual does something not permitted by the peace of the grave agreement, in order for them to be held accountable, domestic law should facilitate that."

"Our law enables holding people accountable for the desecration of a grave. This would be relevant if the survey team were to go and start removing parts of the ship, recovering human remains or removing items from them. As long as they only go down there to map the situation, film something, conduct dives, it might be incompatible with the peace of the grave agreement - I can neither confirm nor rebut this - but, when carried out by a private individual, this is not punishable in any way according to our law," Parmas continued.

That a Swedish filmmaker whose 2020 documentary in part sparked the current official investigation faces jail time or hefty fines in his home country relates to domestic law there, Parmas added.

The same individual has been acquitted by a court of first instance, Parmas added, noting that the international agreement applies to states, rather than to private individuals.

The filmmaker, Henrik Evertsson, reportedly resides in neighboring Norway.

Former state prosecutor Margus Kurm, heading up the planned private-sector dive, had told Parmas about the plans previously, Parmas added.

An official investigation involving Estonian and Swedish authorities will continue next year, after preliminary dives this summer.

A lack of satisfaction behind this project provides part of the motivation for the rival investigation headed up by Kurm.

The Kurm-led investigation is part-funded by the Postimees Group, which owns both the newspaper of the same name, Kanal 2, and newswire BNS.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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