Estonia: Sweden used ferry as secret military transport

The Estonia ferry, which sank in the Baltic Sea in 1994, claiming 852 lives, was used by Sweden to secretly transport Russian military equipment, an Estonian team probing the country's worst maritime accident said on Tuesday.

“At least twice in 1994, military techonological equipment was transported on board the ferry Estonia,” Margus Leivo, head of the probe team set up last year by the Estonian government, told reporters.

“But we could not establish whether there is a direct link between the accident and the secret transportation of the equipment,” he said, presenting the final report of the commission.

The Estonia ferry sank on September 28, 1994, as it made the crossing from Tallinn to Stockholm. All but 137 of the 989 passengers and crew on board perished in the accident.

An international probe team determined in 1997 that faulty bow doors that gave way in stormy weather had caused the accident, the worst in the Baltic Sea in peace time.

But many relatives of the dead, shipping experts and politicians have claimed the Estonia went down after an explosion on board, and have questioned the findings of the 1997 report.

Last year, citing flaws in the initial report into the cause of the accident, both Estonia and Sweden launched new probes into the sinking, in particular to determine whether military equipment had been transported on the ferry.