One of the passengers who survived a fire onboard the car-and passenger ferry Scandinavian Star 27 years ago was among those disappointed again by the latest report on the blaze that killed 159 others. It concluded that there was no evidence of sabotage or arson that was economically motivated.
The report by a commission appointed by the Norwegian Parliament to investigate the blaze supported earlier police conclusions into the tragedy. Norwegian Arvid Rusten, now 67 years old, had hoped there finally would be more answers, and accused investigators of being unwilling to fully clarify what happened.
“This is a parody, I’ve given up the whole case,” Rusten, who lives in the mountain town of Sykkylven, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) Thursday after the report had been delivered. He still suspects the fire was set by an arsonist or arsonists acting on behalf of an alleged insurance scam, and that those killed were actually murdered.
Gisle Weddegjerde of Ålesund, a shipping technician working for a group that wants a new investigation of the fire, was dissatisfied with the report’s conclusion as well. “It’s horrible,” he told NRK. “Don’t forget that this is an unsolved mass murder case without the culprits being identified, and that can be done.” He made his claim when the report was presented in Parliament Thursday afternoon.
The report, however, claims police “have not found any technical proof that can confirm theories of sabotage.” Nor is there any information, according to the report, indicating any proof of economically motivated arson. The commission also claimed that the police’s own investigation into the fire reflected “tidy project and resource management.”
Police have determined that the fire was set, and a Danish truck driver who died in the fire was initially believed to be the arsonist. Charges to that effect were later withdrawn, with the police saying that while there was cause to suspect him, there was no evidence to identify him as the arsonist.
In February of last year, a former maritime inspector charged that two members of the Scandinavian Star’s crew started the fire, while others have claimed fires were set in several locations around the ship. Police have said they had no evidence of that either.