Inquiry Board Findings on Freighter Incident of 12 May 109


On 12 May 109, six Reserve pilots assisted the Guardian Shadows corporation in the destruction of a Charon-class freighter belonging to the Brothers of Freedom corporation, after preliminary intelligence indicated the possibility that the freighter intended to dock with the nearby CEP station and overwhelm security forces there. The combined attack by Reserve and Guardian Shadows' vessels destroyed the freighter, which was destroyed with all hands. Casualties aboard the vessel were estimated to be in the range of 65000. While these losses were tragic, Reserve officers on the scene believed that the threat to Caldari State citizens and property was both real and imminent.

Reserve officers first became involved in this incident when Weyln Xumal of the Guardian Shadows corporation contacted a number of Reserve members and requested that Reserve forces be present during the Brothers of Freedom rally in New Caldari. This request was made early on 12 May. Xumal later indicated that they had evidence that the Brothers of Freedom intended to bring a freighter full of anti-State agitators to the CEP station in New Caldari during the rally in an attempt to overwhelm security forces there. He requested the assistance of Reserve members to interdict the freighter before it was able to dock with the station; this was some two hours prior to the actual attack.

Unfortunately, no member of the Reserve general staff was present at the time, due to ongoing combat operations elsewhere, and despite general orders from senior staff that Reserve forces were not to engage any vessels at this rally unless they presented a clear and present danger to Caldari State citizens and property, the standard set for this was not fully understood by the officers present in New Caldari. As a result, the officers present in New Caldari did not fully appreciate the ramifications if they acted in error. No effort was made to confirm that the Guardian Shadows corporation had any legitimate authority from the State or its component megacorporations, and attempts to confirm their intelligence were not made until the Guardian Shadows had already engaged the freighter. As a result, the Board of Inquiry believes that it is nearly certain that the freighter would have been destroyed regardless of Reserve involvement, though this is not a valid defense for Reserve actions at the time. In retrospect, immobilizing the freighter and allowing it to be boarded by proper authorities may have been a better alternative, but this does not appear to have been considered by any parties involved.

The Board of Inquiry has determined that the officers involved have made a minimum of two violations to the Reserve Code of Conduct, and exercised a lack of judgement when they opened fire on the freighter. All six Reserve officers involved have been docked four months service pay. Furthermore, the four most senior members of the flotilla, LCDR Sanalis, LCDR Shrewsberry, LCDR Sokira, and LT Longshots, have been demoted, as they failed to exercise the judgement necessary for command authority. LCDR Sokira has also been stripped of his position as Deputy Chief of Naval Intelligence. However, the failure of the Reserve in this incident is not entirely limited to these officers, as a member of the flag staff should have been in command of this fleet, and orders in the matter should have been considerably more clear.

Due to the questions that still remain regarding the incident and those who participated in it, the Reserve believes it is imperative that the matter be further investigated by the proper authorities; in this incident, those authorities are the Caldari Business Tribunal, the Caldari Navy, and CONCORD. Due to the possibility of liability the Reserve has in the matter, as well as our desire to see the facts of this case made completely clear, the Reserve will reimburse the State for any costs incurred in this investigation. In particular, the Reserve believes the following questions must be answered in order to reach complete understanding in this matter:
Who are the Brothers of Freedom? The presence of a Federation official at the rally on 12 May indicates that there may be foreign involvement in this matter. Where did the Brothers of Freedom obtain the estimated one billion ISK necessary to purchase the freighter used in the incident? It seems unlikely such a small group could obtain those kinds of funds without assistance from some other party. What were their actual plans when they attempted to bring 65000 activists to the CEP station on that day?
Who are the Guardian Shadows? The Board of Inquiry has found no evidence to support their assertions that they were acting with any legitimate authority from the State or its component megacorporations. Furthermore, their insistence on destroying the freighter, as opposed to merely incapacitating it, is highly suspect. Where did they get their intelligence that the Brothers of Freedom intended to attack the CEP station?
Was the destruction of the freighter justified, and if not, who bears the liability for the matter and what is the extent of that liability? At this time, the Board of Inquiry believes there is insufficient evidence to make this determination one way or another, and due to the Reserve's involvement it seems prudent for a third party to determine this matter. Should the Tribunal or other legal authorities determine that the Reserve bears further liability in the matter, the Reserve will make any and all necessary reparations to the affected entities.
The Reserve will cooperate fully with any such official investigations; the diplomatic office has been instructed to share all relevant communications, reports, and other materials involved with appropriate legal authorities. All such requests may be directed to CAPT Svetlana Scarlet, Reserve Chief of Diplomatic Staff.