LATVIA – Ferry «ESTONIA»
According to POSTIMEES, The Swedish publication Aftonbladet reports that the Swedish Defence Forces carried more military equipment on the ferry «Estonia» than previously stated. This information emerged when the Swedish Accident Investigation Centre (SHK) interviewed representatives of the defence forces.
The head of SHK, Jonas Bäckstrand, told Aftonbladet that defence officials had been asked a number of questions that had been raised for decades. Some of them were related to the transport of military equipment on the Estonia ferry.
The Swedish Defence Forces have previously admitted that two transports took place on the Estonia ferry, on September 14 and 20. Now SHK has admitted that there were more such transports.
«We have conducted interviews with representatives of the defence forces – both those still in service and those no longer in the defence forces. The information we have received shows that there have been several more transports in the past and they acknowledge this,» Bäckstrand told a Swedish publication.
The equipment was transported in civilian vehicles
The Defence Forces have confirmed to the Swedish news agency TT that in addition to the already announced transports on the Estonian ferry, «several» transports took place at unspecified times, but not in September or on the night of the tragedy.
Colonel Anders Stach said he could not speak about more precise figures or time periods. Stah said equipment with documentation had been moved, but no weapons or ammunition.
The SHK admitted that the equipment was transported in civilian vehicles. Stah told TT he could not speak about the purpose of the transport and why the Swedish Defence Forces waited so long to inform the public.
In addition, the defence force representative acknowledged that the customs at the time only gave limited consideration to the importation of equipment. He stressed that it was very important for the defence forces to contribute to the study group’s work.
Beckstrand said the new information was important for understanding the big picture, but that it did not affect the content of the investigation at this time.
«During the investigation we are looking at the ship and its damage. There is no evidence that the findings of the 1997 investigation are untrue,» Beckstrand said.
A total of 852 passengers, including 17 residents of Latvia, died in the crash of the Estonian. The youngest of the victims was a girl who was only a few months old. The ferry set off on its fateful voyage on 27 September 1994, but there is still debate about the causes of the tragedy.