Murder in the Pacific, a new three-part series on BBC Two, tells the story of a Greenpeace ship and the bombing that sank it in Auckland harbour, killing a crew member.

The documentary draws upon testimony from Rainbow Warrior’s crew of activists, the police investigators tasked with solving the crime, and the bombers themselves.

The series exposes how far powerful governments will go to protect their interests in the face of opposition from environmental activists.

Here’s what you need to know.

What happened to Rainbow Warrior?

Rainbow Warrior was a flagship owned by Greenpeace, an environmental campaigning organisation, used in actions against whaling, seal hunting, nuclear testing and nuclear waste dumping.

In 1985, it responded to an appeal by the residents of Rongelap in the Marshall Islands, between Hawaii and the Philippines, whose inhabitants were suffering the effects of nuclear fallout following the 1954 US testing of H-bomb ‘Bravo’ – a weapon one thousand times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Thyroid cancer and birth deformities were alarmingly high, yet US scientists believed that leaving people on the island would “afford valuable radiation data on human beings”.

Rainbow Warrior’s next stop was Auckland harbour, New Zealand, from where the crew were to lead a flotilla of boats protesting against French nuclear tests at the nearby French Polynesian atoll of Mururoa.

The first bomb, detonated in the night of 10 July, blew a hole about the size of an average car through the ship.

After an initial evacuation, a 35-year-old Portuguese-Dutch photographer, Fernando Pereira, returned below deck to collect his camera equipment.

The second bomb detonated seven minutes after the first, while Pereira was still on board.

He drowned in the rapid flooding that followed, and the other 10 crew members either safely abandoned or were thrown into the water by the second explosion.

Rainbow Warrior sank four minutes later.

France, an ally of New Zealand, initially denied involvement in the incident, joining in the condemnation of what was described as a terrorist attack.

Piecing together the extraordinary events leading up to that fateful night, the series unravels investigation that led to the indictment of the French Government.

How to watch Murder in the Pacific?

Murder in the Pacific airs tonight (2 March) on BBC Two at 9pm.

All three episodes will be immediately available on BBC iPlayer.

By admin