Just as it cleared itself from one scandal, the State has found itself mired in another, as a freighter belonging to the Anti-State movement the Brothers of Freedom was downed in New Caldari. The death toll currently stands at approximately 65,000, with final numbers almost impossible to attain.
It is understood that a Charon freighter piloted by Uhaera Kuomai, a member of the Brothers of Freedom, was destroyed approximately 100km from the Chief Executive Panel station in New Caldari, where it was ferrying protesters numbering in the tens of thousands. Kuomai himself perished in the attack, along with every single crew member and protester aboard. Experts estimate that tens of thousands may have survived the initial onslaught, but eyewitnesses confirmed the destruction of the wreck itself and thus the death of everyone aboard.
In a Galnet communication labeled “The time has come for change”, CEO and leader of the Brothers of Freedom, Melarius Torvil announced the protest, two days prior to it taking place on the 12th. “The countless voices of the oppressed and abused are gathering, we shall stand united, and be heard throughout the stars,” stated the press release. In the communication, pilots of the Caldari Independent Navy Reserve, one of the most prominent Pro-State capsuleer corporations, claimed that the protest “would not be worth the ammunition” and denounced the use of violence to quell the uprising.
Only a little over 24 hours later, they were sighted destroying the freighter alongside a corporation known as the Guardian Shadows. In an interview only minutes after the downing of the freighter, CAIN pilot Hurs Sokira claimed: “It was designed to gather as much bystanders as possible and then trigger a mass riot, right in front of the media and the public.” CAIN’s involvement was confirmed the following day in a short press release issued by Captain Scarlet on CAIN’s own information portal: “I can confirm that Reserve vessels did indeed participate in the interception of that vessel, though only after being informed that the freighter posed an imminent threat to the station itself.”
Further details were not immediately available and it still remains at this time, uncertain whether or not the Brothers of Freedom and their rally did indeed represent any threat. Many have claimed that the rally was supposed to be a non-violent procession, and in light of this widely-perceived notion, the attack has sparked outrage across the cluster, even in the Federation, which had a visiting high-ranking official present in the system at the time.
Following the outrage from the attack, CAIN diplomat and Captain Svetlana Scarlet issued the following statement on Galnet:
The events of yesterday were extremely regrettable; it is never a good thing when that many lives are lost, regardless of the reason. At this time, we are investigating the actions taken by Reserve officers yesterday to determine whether or not their response was appropriate, and whether any disciplinary action should be taken…we are taking this very seriously and…our ultimate goal is for the facts of the case to be firmly established. This matter has assumed highest priority for Reserve personnel and we intend to make sure this matter is resolved within a matter of days.
On the 21st, the Board published its findings in a second press release. In a display of self-accountability it denounced the “lack of judgment” of CAIN staff, and handed out fines and demotions to each pilot. In addition the flag staff admitted they should have been in command of the fleet and “orders in the matter should have been considerably more clear.”
The board has called for further investigation into a number of areas by State authorities, offering to pay for the them entirely out of CAIN’s corporate accounts. It laid out three areas of concern and uncertainty, and promised full co-operation with any official investigation.
The destruction of the ship and all it’s crew will leave little in the way of direct evidence for any investigative team. Opinion is so far, divided on just what the Brothers of Freedom had in mind with some 65,000 estimated activists inbound to the CEP station. Whether or not an official investigation into the matter will be conducted remains unclear at this time.