OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian police on Friday recommended reopening an investigation into a ferry fire in 1990 that killed 159 people after a police review cast doubt on findings that a Danish man who died on board had started the blaze.
Survivors and relatives of passengers who died on the Scandinavian Star have long campaigned for the case to be reopened, because of doubts that a single passenger could have started all the fires that broke out in several parts of the vessel as it headed from Norway to Denmark.
Last year, with Norway’s 25-year statute of limitations for murder cases looming, police agreed to review their work on the case.
“When 159 people are killed in a fire that was probably started deliberately, there’s reason to do what we can to get as many answers as possible on what happened,” Oslo police chief Hans Sverre Sjoevold told a news conference.
“The investigation that was conducted in 1990-91 did not have the full scope that we would demand today, particularly regarding potential economic motives behind a fire like this.”
“The factors that resulted in a Danish citizen being named the perpetrator were insufficient as evidence.”
A survivors’ group has pointed to new witness testimony that some people slipped away from the ship after the accident without being registered.
Sjoevold did not name any possible suspects and cautioned there was no certainty that a fresh investigation would uncover significant new evidence.
A final decision on whether to reopen the case rests with the national prosecutor’s office.
Reporting by Terje Solsvik, editing by Alister Doyle and Kevin Liffey