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Next on the scene were three ostensible French sailing and diving enthusiasts who turned up in Nouméa, capital of the French overseas island territory of New Caledonia, 900 miles northwest of New Zealand. Using the names Raymond Velche, Jean-Michel Berthelo and Eric Audrenc, they rented a 37½-foot sailing vessel, Ouvéa. They are believed to have outfitted it with sophisticated scuba gear, a satellite navigational system and a radio transmitter capable of transoceanic broadcasts. They were then joined by Dr. Xavier Maniguet, who used his real name. On June 13, as Rainbow Warrior headed south from its mission at Rongelap, Ouvéa set sail for New Zealand.
The final element in the press's version of the story was a pair of French agents reportedly traveling as a Swiss married couple with the pseudonyms Alain and Sophie Turenge. He has been identified as Alain Mafart, a 34-year-old officer assigned to the French naval commando school in Corsica. "Sophie" is really Dominique Prieur, 36, reportedly the wife of a Parisian fireman, and has been identified by New Zealand authorities as a captain in the DGSE. She is also said to be one of the first women in France to be made a regular intelligence officer.
The couple arrived in New Zealand in late June. Using maps and information possibly provided by Bonlieu, the Turenges rented a camper van and on July 7 were reportedly seen rendezvousing with the crew of Ouvéa at a spot about 100 miles northwest of Auckland. On July 9, the day before the sinking, Ouvéa apparently upped anchor and headed south to deliver a Zodiac raft, equipment and a diver, still unidentified, to the Turenges.
A witness in the area later reported seeing gear being loaded into the Turenges' camper from a Zodiac. This cargo may have included the explosive magnetic limpet mines that are believed to have been attached to Rainbow Warrior's hull. Then, on the evening of July 10, another witness claimed to have seen a frogman in a Zodiac in Auckland harbor. Presumably, the diver steered his raft to a point near the Warrior shortly after that. The Greenpeacers were on board holding a birthday party. According to one newspaper account, the diver slipped into the water, swam to the ship and attached his limpets—one on the starboard side amidships, the other near the bow to port. He then swam back to the raft, made his way through the harbor and, at 9:30 p.m., was reportedly seen stashing his gear back in the Turenges' van by members of a nearby boating club. They called the police, but the vehicle had gone before the cops arrived.
The explosions occurred at about midnight. With the exception of photographer Pereira, the crew jumped over the side or onto the dock and survived.
Ouvéa set sail for New Caledonia before morning. It had reportedly picked up the diver who had bombed the ship from yet another dinghy, this one a craft that was part of the Ouvéa's equipment and was later found by New Zealand police. Later, near the wreck of the Warrior, police found sophisticated scuba gear bearing French markings and of a type used by the French army. The Turenges then foolishly returned the van to the rental office. The vehicle had been earmarked as suspicious by the police because of the report from the boating club. The couple was arrested, held briefly and then released. Even more foolishly, Alain then phoned Paris, and police traced the phone number to French intelligence.
The couple was rearrested. Police say that their Swiss passports were forgeries. So far the New Zealand police say they have accumulated 1,000 pieces of evidence, some 400 of which may be used in their trial. They face charges of murder and arson and a preliminary hearing is set for Nov. 4.
Meanwhile, Ouvéa stopped briefly at Norfolk Island, an Australian possession. Those aboard the boat were questioned and released. From the island, Maniguet, who denied any involvement in the sinking, flew to Paris via Sydney, while the other three sailed away, radioed a series of apparently false position reports and then dropped out of sight until early this week when they surrendered to Paris police and were released. All three were revealed to be veteran agents of the DGSE.
With so many signs pointing to French intelligence involvement with Rainbow Warrior's sinking, Mitterrand—already in trouble with the electorate because of economic troubles—went on the offensive. He ordered an inquiry headed by a former aide to Charles de Gaulle, Bernard Tricot. Mitterrand vowed to punish those involved, and some observers expected Defense Minister Charles Hernu, whose ministry is responsible for the DGSE, to get the ax.
As Tricot proceeded with his investigation, McTaggart hied to Paris, where he tried to meet with Mitterrand but was rebuffed. McTaggart, a Vancouver contractor and Canadian badminton champion before he got involved with Greenpeace in 1972, has emerged as a tough, canny fighter for environmental action. "I'm the most hated man in Greenpeace," he said recently. "Even by my own people. I learned early on that you can't run this outfit by consensus." In 1983, when the Iran-Iraq war had caused oil spills throughout the Persian Gulf, McTaggart arranged with Red Adair, the Texas oil-capping expert, to plug the leaks. But before Adair could leave for the Gulf, one of Greenpeace's national contingents—from The Netherlands—vetoed the operation. Says McTaggart ruefully, "Since then I've insisted on action by majority vote."