Timeline: The bombing of the Rainbow Warrior

Page - July 7, 2017
The Rainbow Warrior bombing took place on July 10, 1985, but it had been in the planning for months, and had repercussions that would last for years.


23 April: French agent Christine Huguette Cabon arrives in Auckland and starts working for Greenpeace.

24 May: Christine Huguette Cabon departs New Zealand.

13 June: The French yacht ‘Ouvea’ departs Noumea, New Caledonia for New Zealand. On board are French agents Roland Verge, Gerald Andries, Jean-Michel Bartelo and Xavier Maniguet.They have on board a zodiac boat, outboard motor, diving equipment and explosives.

22 June: French yacht Ouvea arrives at Parengarenga Harbour, Northland. French agents Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur arrive in Auckland and rent a campervan to meet with the ‘Ouvea’ crew.

23 June: French agent Louis Pierre Dillais arrives in Auckland.

7 July: The Rainbow warrior arrives in Auckland. French agents Jean Cammas and Jean Luc Kister arrive in Auckland to carry out the bombing.

9 July: The French yacht ‘Ouvea’ departs Whangarei for Norfolk Island.

10 July: The Rainbow Warrior is sunk by two bombs. Fernando Pereira is killed.

11 July: French agents Dillais, Cammas and Klister cross cook Strait to the South Island.

12 July: Mafart and Prieur are caught by police while returning their campervan. The French government denies involvement in the bombing.

15 July: NZ Police detectives interview 3 of the ‘Ouvea’ crew on Norfolk Island. They gather evidence but have to release them. The yacht later disappears on the voyage to Noumea and the crew turn up in France.

23 July: French agent Louis Pierre Dillais flies to Australia.

26 July: French agents Jean Cammas and Jean Luc Kister fly from Auckland to Tahiti.

4 August: Mafart and Prieur are charged with murder.

8 August: French Prime Minister Fabius announces an inquiry into who was responsible for the bombing. Bernard Tricot is to lead the inquiry.

26 August: The French Tricot inquiry clears the French authorities of involvement in the bombing. The Tricot report states that the agents were only gathering intelligence about the upcoming anti-nuclear testing protests at Mururoa.

17 September: The French Le Monde newspaper makes allegations of French involvement.

20 September: French Defence Minister Charles Hernu resigns and DGSE head Pierre Lacoste is sacked over the scandal.

22 September: French Prime Minister Fabius makes a television broadcast stating that French agents of the DGSE sank the Rainbow Warrior. They were under orders and therefore would not be punished.

4 November: Mafart and Prieur plead guilty to the charge of manslaughter and wilful damage.

22 November: Mafart and Prieur are sentenced to 10 years' jail in New Zealand.


July: France pays New Zealand NZ$13m. Prieur and Mafart are sent to Hao Atoll in French Polynesia for three years to serve their sentence. Prieur's husband joins her there.


2 October: France is ordered to pay Greenpeace more than US$8.1m.

12 December: The Rainbow Warrior is scuttled at Matauri Bay off Northland's coast.

14 December: Alain Mafart returns to France due to illness. He is later decorated and promoted.


6 May: Dominique Prieur returns to France early due to pregnancy. She is later decorated and promoted.