Former head of the government's enquiry into the 1994 sinking of the MS Estonia ferry says that the official version of why the ship sank can be cast into doubt, mainly since surviving crew members say the vessel's bow visor remained intact, rather than separating from the hull as has been claimed.
Speaking on morning magazine show Terevisioon on Friday, Margus Kurm, who headed up the government's investigation into the disaster 2005-2009, said that: "There are many nuances around the accident which could be investigated endlessly, but people are most troubled by the root cause of the accident, and whether the hull is intact or not."
When asked by host Katrin Viirpalu if this meant the testimony of surviving witnesses, including crew members of the Estonia, had been ignored, Kurm said that it had.
"The official version is that waves broke the visor's locks, it then detached from the bow, opening the vehicle loading ramp to the sea, with water pouring through that breach causing the ship to list and then sink, over a time period of about 35 minutes," Kurm said
"The hull is intact [in this version of events], and there is no hole; everything was caused by water flowing via the ramp," he went on.
"They (the Estonia's crew members-ed.) saw from a camera pointing at the ramp that the ramp was in a closed position. While water was leaking around the edges, it was essentially in place, in front of the ramp," Kurm added.
As reported on ERR News, Tallinn Administrative Court has ordered the government to respond to a request for a new investigation into the disaster from families of the MS Estonia victims, and their representatives, within 60 days, finding that the request, made in 2016, had not been properly responded to.
The only response was a letter from the justice ministry in 2018 which said the request was a matter for the government, adding the ministry did not see cause for reopening the case.
The court found that settling the application has been unlawfully delayed, the court found, and the government must respond within "reasonable time" - 60 days in this case, as well as pay costs of €2,580.
This decision can be appealed, no later than 25 November 2019.
The Estonia sank on Sept. 28 1994 in stormy weather en route to Sweden, and claimed 852 lives. There were 137 survivors.
She lies on the seabed in around 100 meters of water, about 22 nautical miles (41 km) from Utö island, Finland. The wreck is a protected site.
The original Terevisioon segment (in Estonian) is here.
Editor: Andrew Whyte