WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A judge today ordered two French agents convicted of bombing a Greenpeace vessel to appear in court in September to answer a new charge, thus endangering an agreement that would have let them leave the country to serve out their terms under French jurisdiction.
An Auckland District Court judge ruled that Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur must now face charges of delivering explosives to New Zealand.
Mafart and Prieur had been scheduled to be returned to French custody on Tuesday, but the ruling makes their future uncertain. Government sources said today that the Cabinet is discussing the development.
Convicted of Manslaughter
Mafart and Prieur were convicted of manslaughter in the sinking of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior on July 10, 1985. The sinking resulted in the death of Fernando Pereira, a 33-year-old photographer for Greenpeace, an anti-nuclear and environmentalist organization.
In November, the agents were given identical 10-year prison sentences.
The Rainbow Warrior was sunk by magnetic mines in Auckland Harbor shortly before it was to have led a protest fleet to the French nuclear-weapons test site of Mururoa Atoll, 3,000 miles northeast of New Zealand in the Pacific Ocean.
A dispute broke out between France and New Zealand over the sentencing of the agents, which eventually prompted the two nations to allow U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar to arbitrate the disagreement.
$7 Million in Compensation
Earlier this month, Perez de Cuellar ruled that the agents should be released to the French-administered atoll of Hao in the South Pacific and serve the rest of their prison sentences there. In return, France was to apologize to New Zealand for its part in the bombing and pay $7 million in compensation.
The U.N. secretary general's ruling angered some New Zealanders, including lawyer Colin Amery, who later filed the charges accusing Mafart and Prieur of delivering explosives.