Scandinavian Star fire case to reopen

As many as 159 people died in the 1990 disaster

The investigation into the worst ferry disaster in Norway’s history will reopen, Norwegian police say. The decision comes after another year-long study of the evidence.

As many as 159 people, most of them Norwegian, died when the Scandinavian Star caught fire en route from Oslo to Frederikshaven in Denmark in 1990.

Evidence now points the finger of guilt towards of a number of the ship’s crew, many of whom were hurriedly hired when the operator, DA-NO Linjen, bought the ship. Relatives of the victims have long campaigned for the case to reopen, arguing that the fire was started on purpose, allegedly for insurance purposes. The Star had been insured for twice its value shortly before the fire happened.

A special committee was given the job last year of looking at the original investigation in 1990.

“Their report shows in my opinion that some parts of the case were not sufficiently well illuminated,” Hans Sverre Sjøvold, chief of police in Oslo, said. “Although there are no new findings in the case, I have on the basis of their overall assessment nonetheless decided to recommend a new investigation of these parts of the case.”

He suggested that the possible financial motives of the ship’s owner, Vognmandsruten, “had not been investigated sufficiently.”

The original investigation blamed a Danish truck driver for starting the fire. But a report of independent experts concluded last year that the driver had died of asphyxiation even before the last of several fires on the boat was lit.

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