MAURASI - The Caldari Business Tribunal has confirmed that the Quafe Convoy destroyed on March 25th was "illegally destroyed whilst in the care of Caldari Customs forces" in a hearing that took place this afternoon at CBT headquarters in The Forge.
Destroyed while in the process of leaving the State via the Caldari Border Zone, the convoy of seven Obelisk class freighters was lost after being diverted to an off-grid customs holding facility several AU away from the Stargate that connects the Caldari system of Kassigainen with the Federal border system of Algogille.
The Scope has learned that on board telemetry from the seven vessels has been classified as inadmissible due to its incomplete nature, after flight recorders were found to have been heavily damaged during the destruction of the vessels. Voice recordings from the last moments of the convoy were played during the initial hearing, and appear to confirm pilots and engineering staff exchanging words regarding hull breaches, missile fire and explosions shortly after arriving in close proximity to the facility.
The Squadron Leader of the customs force that engaged the convoy testified before the Tribunal that the seven vessels began to break up as they exited hyperspace while slowing from warp on grid with the holding facility, which it has been revealed was also heavily damaged by debris in the attack.
Pilot Alpha - the squadron leader who cannot be named by the press for legal reasons - asserted that the seven vessels were already crippled as they arrived at the scene, before breaking up due to "some form of internal malfunction or systems failure". Pilot Alpha also confirmed that "after the vessels broke up, it was apparent that the holding facility was at risk of being bombarded by fast moving debris. As such, a weapons free order was issued against the wreckage to minimise damage to the facility and preserve the safety of those on board."
The CBT confirmed that examination of the wreckage indicated the presence of residue from explosives used in Scourge and Inferno torpedoes and heavy missiles. These missile types were confirmed to have been in use by Caldari Customs on the day of the incident, and on board telemetry from customs vessels confirms the launch of more than six hundred individual missiles over the course of a seven minute engagement.
While the events of March 25th still appear to be disputed between the Quafe Company and Caldari Customs, it has been confirmed that no distress calls were issued from any of the Quafe vessels. Legal experts at The Scope have confirmed that under both State and interstellar law, the safety and wellbeing of the seven vessels and the 4,691 personnel on board became the responsibility of Caldari Customs from the moment they were diverted from their approved flight plan to the facility, as part of the State Armed Forces "Duty of Care" under the Yulai Convention.
Caldari Customs have so far declined to comment to the interstellar press regarding the incident, however it is believed by many experts that regardless of the nature of the destruction of the seven vessels, the State Armed Forces will be held accountable for the loss of the convoy and all those on board.
The Scope reached out to the Directive Enforcement Department this afternoon for comment, and were informed by General Odo Korachi, commander of the DED's Genesis, forces that "the DED have assessed the situation, and have come to the conclusion that this is a matter that should be resolved by the Caldari Business Tribunal.
"The DED is on hand to assist with investigatory matters and to provide independent review of evidence if required, however the incident lies within the jurisdiction of the CBT given that the Quafe Company holds corporate status in the Caldari State, and therefore the 4,700 personnel lost held associated rights as citizens of the Caldari State."
The Tribunal into the loss of the convoy is expected to last several weeks. The Scope will continue to report on events as they unfold.