Sinking of the “Bugaled-Breizh” in 2004: British justice concludes with a “fishing accident”

British justice agreed, Friday, November 5, to the thesis of the fishing accident to explain the sinking of the French trawler Bugaled-Breizh in 2004, ruling out the hypothesis of a collision with a submarine, defended by the families of the victims. The Breton boat sank very quickly off the coast of Cornwall (south-west of England) where it was fishing in fairly good weather conditions. The five sailors on board had been swept away by the bottom.

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Five years after the final dismissal in France, relatives of the victims hoped that the three weeks of hearings held in October at the High Court in London would reveal new elements likely to relaunch the investigation. If the French justice could not decide between the hypothesis of a collision with a military submarine and that of a fishing accident, Judge Nigel Lickley was more categorical: the trawler did indeed “Sunk due to a fishing accident”, he ruled in making his conclusions, adding that no other ship was nearby.

“I’m capsizing, come quickly! “, had launched the boss of Bugaled-Breizh (“Children of Brittany”, in Breton) Yves Gloaguen, in a distress call to one of his colleagues at midday that day. On board the trawler, which fished in rather good conditions, were five experienced sailors, “Riding on security”, according to their relatives.

“We were absolutely not involved”

Of the five victims, only the bodies of Patrick Gloaguen, Yves Gloaguen and Pascal Le Floch were found – the first in the wreckage during its refloating, the other two in British waters. The British proceedings focused on the death of the latter two. Georges Le Métayer and Eric Guillamet were reported missing at sea.

If the British procedure could not lead to the pronouncement of convictions, the families of the victims hoped that it could raise new elements likely to nourish a request for reopening of the investigation in France. The dismissal pronounced by the French justice became final in 2016 after the rejection of their last appeal.

During the hearings before the High Court of London, the hypothesis of the collision with a military submarine, favored by the families of the victims, moved away in favor of that of a fishing accident, due to a equipment of the ship which would have gripped the bottom, defended by an expert at the hearing.

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The presence of three submarines (Dutch Dolphin, german U22 and the british Torbay) was certified in the area, where military exercises were being prepared. The suspicions of the families, however, fell on another submarine, the British Turbulent. Before the High Court, the Dutch Navy and the Royal Navy ruled out any involvement, the former claiming that the Dolphin was on the surface when the accident occurred, the second that the Turbulent was not at sea on the day of the sinking.

“We weren’t involved at all. We were at the quay ”, in Devonport (South West England) ” the 15th “ January, said then-British submarine commander Andrew Coles in a much-anticipated testimony. As for the hypothesis of the presence of an unidentified allied submarine in the area of ​​the exercises, it was considered ” unthinkable “ by Commander Daniel Simmonds, a Royal Navy Underwater Operations Officer.

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Sinking of the “Bugaled-Breizh” in 2004: British justice concludes with a “fishing accident”

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