Monday , June 24 2024
Home / FEATURED / Pylos Shipwreck: Greek judge dismisses case against 9 Egyptians

Pylos Shipwreck: Greek judge dismisses case against 9 Egyptians

A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction.

Shortly after the trial opened in the southern Greek city of Kalamata, public prosecutor Ekaterini Tsironi recommended that the charges be dismissed, saying that Greek jurisdiction could be established because the overcrowded trawler sank outside Greek territorial waters.

More than 500 people are believed to have gone down with the fishing trawler, which had been traveling from Libya to Italy. Following the sinking, 104 people were rescued – mostly migrants from Syria, Pakistan and Egypt – and 82 bodies were recovered.

International human rights groups had argued that the accuseds’ right to a fair trial was compromised, as they faced judgment before an investigation is concluded into claims that the Greek coast guard may have botched the rescue attempt.

Outside the courthouse, a small group of protesters clashed with riot police as the proceedings got underway. There were no reports of serious injuries but two people were detained.

The protesters could be heard inside the packed courtroom as presiding judge Eftichia Kontaratou read out the names of the nine defendants. Officers from the special police forces maintained order in the courtroom.

The defendants, most in their 20s, face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges over the sinking of the Adriana fishing trawler on June 14 last year off the southern coast of Greece.

Defense lawyer Spyros Pantazis earlier asked the court to declare itself incompetent to try the case, arguing that the sinking occurred outside Greek territorial waters.

“The court should not be turned into an international punisher,” Pantazis told the panel of three judges.

Kontaratou questioned all nine defendants through an interpreter. The accused said their intention was to travel to Italy, not Greece, and several declared their innocence.

Kontaratou acknowledged that there “were no Greeks on board, it was not under a Greek flag and all the documents refer to the (vessel being) 47 nautical miles away.” [AP]

Check Also

Hydra: Fireworks from luxury yacht set only pine forest on fire

Anger and outrage on the island of Hydra against people on a luxury yacht who …