A Swedish filmmaker has revealed that he is looking forward to giving evidence next month after being arrested for filming the wreckage of doomed ferry MS Estonia.
Henrik Evertsson will appear in court in Gothenberg on January 27, accused of breaching an international treaty, which declared the site a marine grave and prohibited any exploration of the wreck.
But the film director, who faces a two-year jail sentence if found guilty, believes that he did not contravene the 1995 treaty, signed by the governments of Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Denmark, Russia and the UK.
He went to extraordinary lengths to avoid prosecution: he and his crew chartered a German boat because it was the only Baltic state not to sign the treaty and sent down a camera attached to an underwater drone.
‘I’ve been DNA tested and hauled in for an interview with the Swedish police and now on January 27, I will be going to court in Guttenberg,’ he told the Mail online.
Swedish journalist Henrik Evertsson says he is looking forward to his day in court where he will face accusations he breached an international treaty by filming the wreck of the MS Estonia
The documentary Estonia: the Find that Changes Everything reveals how Evertsson and his team discovered a hole in the hull of the vessel, findings which are now being investigated
‘On the one hand I’m looking forward to it. This is not an ordinary law of respecting the peace of the dead. This is a special law only surrounding a certain area of the Baltic Sea.
‘This is the first time this law will ever be tried in its 25-year existence. No one knows the outcome of this trial. I’m looking forward to giving my best arguments.’
‘The investigation of the wreck site is in international waters and we used a German ship flying a German flag and in Germany this is not against the law. They have not signed the treaty.
‘Anyway, with our investigations, we didn’t penetrate the wreck, we did not disturb the dead, we only scanned it from the outside from a certain distance to see if we found any hull damage.
‘I could face up to two years’ imprisonment but I don’t think I have disturbed the dead.’
It is now 26 years since the sinking of the MS Estonia – the largest ship then flying the flag of the Baltic republic – in Europe’s worst peacetime maritime disaster.
Found: a four-metre by 1.2 metre hole in the hull suggesting the Estonia was involved in a crash
Survivors on board the MS Estonia say they heard a loud bang before the ship sank quickly
The ferry set sail from Tallinn to Stockholm at 6.30pm with 803 passengers on board and 186 crew.
The conditions were harsh – there was a Force eight gale and waves up to six metres – but they were not usual and all other scheduled ferries were at sea.
But, at around 1am, a loud bang was heard and, after the ship listed by 60 degrees, torrents of seawater began pouring in through cabin windows, ceilings and doors.
A mangled mayday signal was sent but at 1.50am the Estonia sank, stern first, in international waters about 24 miles south-east of the Finnish island of Utö, killing 852 people.
Only 138 people were rescued, one of whom died in hospital – and only 93 bodies were recovered.
An initial report, in 1997, concluded that the locks on the bow visor had failed, allowing it to tear free and expose the doors and ramp, which gave way, flooding the car deck.
But the surviving witnesses – whose testimony really didn’t feature in the report – were adamant they heard a bang after which the ship went down incredibly fast.
And Evertsson, 33, a graduate of Oslo University, and his colleague Bendik Mondal, decided to investigate.
Pictured: Finnish Army recruits carry some of the victims of the Estonia ferry disaster into an amphibious landing craft for transfer from the island of Uto to the mainland in September 1994
Candles are seen next to the names of victims during a ceremony to mark the 25th anniversary
They discovered a four-metre by 1.2 metre hole in the hull of the vessel, which suggested that the Estonia was involved in a collision.
His findings, which are revealed in the Discovery documentary Estonia: the Find that Changes Everything, are now being investigated by the Swedish authorities.
‘This is one of the biggest stories in Swedish history,’ he added. ‘As a Swedish citizen I have followed it since I was seven years old.
‘It has been investigated but there has been a lot of uneasiness surrounding this, especially from the relatives’ side. If they don’t have the answers, is it possible to move on?
‘We thought maybe these are relevant questions that the relatives have so we wanted to do a documentary series about it. Maybe we can find out more. Maybe we can find out answers to those questions.
‘The Swedish Accident Investigation Board has found the new findings interesting and is investigating the case. Hopefully we have helped the case to go further and helped the relatives to get new answers to their relevant questions.’
Estonia is now available on discovery+ https://www.discoveryplus.co.uk/show/estonia