Key ‘Scandinavian Star’ witness dies

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The chief engineer aboard the Scandinavian Star was found dead last week at his home in the US, three weeks after Norway’s state prosecutor decided an investigation into the 1990 fatal ferry fire should be reopened. The 57-year-old is believed to have died of a heart attack, and may have taken vital information about the disaster to his grave.

The man was found dead last Thursday, reported newspaper Aftenposten on Tuesday. “The death came as no surprise,” said a family friend. “He has been sick for a long time. From what we know, he died of a heart attack. But the final conclusion is not yet available.” Police in Florida confirmed the death was under investigation, and it had not yet been decided if it would be regarded as a possible criminal case.

The engineer was to be an important witness in the new investigation into the tragic ferry fire, where police plan to focus on ownership and the possibility of insurance fraud. In April 1990, 159 people died when fire broke out aboard the Scandinavian Star which was traveling from Oslo to Denmark. It was the largest loss of life in Norway since World War II, and the original investigation was marred by controversy.

Aftenposten reported that some of the rumours involving the chief engineer included that he’d led some of the crew in damaging the ship so that the owners could collect millions in insurance. There was never any evidence that the engineer had anything to do with the fire itself, and he helped to extinguish the blaze.

The ferry was fully insured only days before the fire. It was not clear who owned the ferry, and the businessmen who signed off on the policy were paid a reported USD 17 million in insurance money after the fire, reported Aftenposten.

newsinenglish.no staff