Rainbow Warrior agent dies in crash

Last updated 07:37 25/03/2009
RAINBOW WARRIOR: The orginal Greenpeace ship was destroyed by the French Secret Service.

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A French Secret Service agent who helped destroy Greenpeace flagship the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour has been killed in a plane crash.

Xavier Maniguet, 62, was one of four men aboard the yacht Ouvea that smuggled explosives used to sink the ship protesting French nuclear testing in the South Pacific in 1985.

Maniguet, a flying instructor, died with a 76-year-old pupil yesterday after dropping off a skier on the 3400-metre-high Etendard glacier near the resort of Saint-Sorlin-d'Arves, the New Zealand Herald reported today.

The pair were taking off, Maniguet at the controls, when a gust of wind hit the craft.

He was a reserve officer in the French Navy, an expert diver, parachutist, acrobatic pilot, sailor and doctor specialising in diving injuries and aeronautical health.

Maniguet and three other agents sailed the Ouvea from New Caledonia to New Zealand with two explosive charges hidden in an inflatable life-raft container.

The charges, an inflatable boat, outboard motor and underwater breathing apparatus were delivered to agents charged with co-ordinating the operation.

The gear was then pass to an assault team who attached the mines to the Rainbow Warrior, sinking it in Auckland Harbour on July 10, 1985.

Dutch-Portuguese photographer Fernando Pereira, who had gone below deck to retrieve his camera, died in the blast.

Maniguet continued to work for the Secret Service including a mission to free French hostages in Somalia last year.

Two agents, Dominique Prieur and Alain Mafart were later jailed for 10 years for manslaughter.

However, French lobbying and threats of retaliation against New Zealand agricultural exports to Europe, led to a deal under which they were transferred to Hao Atoll, in French Polynesia, in exchange for reparations payments.

They returned to France after a short time.

- NZPA

 

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