Lucona was an old ship sunk in the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

 in 1977 by a bomb planted by Austrian businessman Udo Proksch
Udo Proksch
Udo Proksch was an Austrian businessman and industrialist. In 1991, he was convicted of the murder of six people as part of a major insurance fraud. Proksch died in prison....

, as part of an insurance fraud
Insurance fraud
Insurance fraud is any act committed with the intent to fraudulently obtain payment from an insurer.Insurance fraud has existed ever since the beginning of insurance as a commercial enterprise. Fraudulent claims account for a significant portion of all claims received by insurers, and cost billions...

. Proksch, the owner of the cargo, also then owner of famous Viennese confectioners Demel
Hofzuckerbäckerei Demel, or simply Der Demel, is a famous pastry shop and chocolatier in Vienna, Austria. It was founded in 1786 on the Michaelerplatz. In 1857, August Dehne gave the company to Christof Demel, who moved the bakery to the Kohlmarkt, where the Demel is still located today in its...

, claimed US$20 million from his insurance company, saying that the cargo was expensive uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

 equipment. He was subsequently convicted in 1991 of the murder of six crew (of the crew of 12) who were killed by the explosion, and died in prison.

The Lucona was located by American shipwreck hunter David Mearns
David Mearns
David Louis Mearns, born circa 1958, is a United States-born marine scientist and deep water search and recovery expert, long resident in the United Kingdom. He is famous for locating the wrecks of several ships lost during World War II...

 in 1990; his first very deep water wreck, at 4,200 metres. He found that the ship had been sunk by a time bomb
Time bomb
A time bomb is a bomb whose detonation is triggered by a timer. The use time bombs has been for various purposes ranging from insurance fraud to warfare to assassination; however, the most common use has been for politically-motivated terrorism.-Construction:The explosive charge is the main...

. While fraud had been suspected, investigations were obstructed by powerful Austrian politicians who were friends of Proksch. Eventually several ex-ministers were convicted over their involvement. The ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs was sentenced for forging documents authenticating the cargo. Two other ministers were dismissed for obstructing the investigations. The Minister of Defense, shareholder in the Proksch firm, had given permission to deliver explosives to sabotage the ship and committed suicide when that became known.

Proksch fled to the Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 in 1988 after Hans Pretterebner published a book about the scandal, and stayed with dictator Ferdinand Marcos
Ferdinand Marcos
Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos, Sr. was a Filipino leader and an authoritarian President of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986. He was a lawyer, member of the Philippine House of Representatives and a member of the Philippine Senate...

, a personal friend. Returning to Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 in 1989 incognito, he was recognized and arrested. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison on March 11, 1991, and a year later the sentence was increased to life in prison. He died on June 27, 2001 during heart surgery.

Works about the Lucona case

  • 1988: Hans Pretterebner published a book about the Lucona case, Der Fall Lucona.
  • 1993: Der Fall Lucona a film of the book about the Lucona, starring David Suchet
    David Suchet
    David Suchet, CBE, is an English actor, known for his work on British television. He is recognised for his RTS- and BPG award-winning performance as Augustus Melmotte in the 2001 British TV mini-drama The Way We Live Now, alongside Matthew Macfadyen and Paloma Baeza, and a 1991 British Academy...

    ; see IMDb entry.
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