France probes US submarine link to fishing boat sinking

Image caption,
The Bugaled Breizh sank in January 2004

An investigation into claims that a US nuclear submarine accidentally sank a French fishing boat in 2004, killing five sailors, is to be reopened.

A French appeals court appointed two magistrates to relaunch a probe into the loss of the Bugaled Breizh off the Cornish coast in January 2004.

In particular, they have been asked to try and identify what US submarines were in the vicinity at the time.

The sinking happened a day before Nato military exercises began in the area.

Submarine expert Dominiques Salles said in May the sinking could have been caused by a US nuclear attack submarine.

He suggested the sub may have been spying on a top secret consignment of military grade plutonium, shipped from the French port of Cherbourg to Japan on board a British nuclear transport vessel.

An inquiry in 2008 concluded a nuclear submarine snagging the boat's trawl was the "highly probable cause" of the sinking, but the judges recommended the investigation be wound up, with no guilty party traced.

Mr Salles' findings were submitted in a report that had been commissioned by appeal judges in Rennes last November.

The 72ft (23m) Bugaled Breizh, which means "child of Brittany" in Breton, was based at the small port of Loctudy.

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