lundi, janvier 09, 2006

Vexatious Vexillology

Gybexi has already blogged about this one. Not about vexillology. Nor about being vexatious... though I think he could be if he put his mind to it. No. What I am referring to is the incident in International Waters (the English Channel side) between the "Sichem Pandora" and the "Kleine-Familie". In case you are wondering we are talking of ships. The first is a Maltese registered chemical transporter (chimiquier), the second is a French registered fishing vessel. It would seem that the Sichem Pandora was the cause of the sinking of the Kleine-Familie (today the procureur de Cherbourg confirmed this theory after examining paint traces on the Sichem) and the subsequent loss of five French sailors.

Now I am sure that all readers are aware that ever since the Erika incident the French don't hold the Maltese Maritime Flag much to heart. Even though French justice acquitted the Maltese government of all responsibility, the general feeling in the hexagon is that Maltese ships are always up to no good.

Which brings me back to the Sichem Pandora. Right now all proof seems to indicate that the captain and crew of Sichem Pandora are guilty of some seriously illegal hit and run on the high seas. If the proof stands then they are guilty as hell of ramming the Kleine-Familie, its sinking and the deaths of five sailors. There is no way out of that.

What DOES irk me is the way the French media insist on reporting the incident by referring to it as "the incident of the Maltese vessel". The French journalists are hitching a cheap ride on the unfounded notoriety of Maltese ships among French society to sensationalise the story even more. No matter how you read the story it seems that the fact that the ship is registered in Malta has something o do with the criminally negligent action of the captain and crew. In truth the only link with Malta in this case is that the action against the captain and crew has to be taken in Maltese courts - since they are the courts of jurisdiction (action occurred in High Seas).

I am literally pissed off at this cheap slandering of my country. Malta had absolutely no control over the acts of the captain and crew. Imagine reading a news report of a negligent car driver who ran over some pedestrians... but instead of the usual headline it would read something like this "Italian Registered Car Causes Three Deaths". You would never read that would you? It would be more like "Libyan Man Arraigned in Court for Dangerous Driving" (as we saw recently in the New Year's Paceville driving frenzy).

Somehow the French have not got over the fact that Malta was not to blame for Erika. They rarely ever mention RINA - the Italian certifying agency that gave Erika the go ahead. They hardly ever mention the fact that Erika was refused entry into French ports and was left to its fate. Selective journalism is not just a Maltese trait. Oh No Siree... it's a flag flown by journalists of all nations....

Le Monde
France Info
(Curiously the written article on France Info does not emphasise the Maltese link like the Radio Version)

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