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Pylos shipwreck: Injuries, arrests as trial against Egyptian nationals starts in S. Greece

Two people were injured and three arrested when clashed erupted between protesters and police forces outside the court in Kalamata where the the trial for nine Egyptian nationals starts over the deadly migrant shipwreck off the coast of Pylos in June 2023.

Members of the communist party union PAME had gathered early Tuesday morning outside the court in the city of southern Peloponnese to express their support with the defendants.

One of the injured was taken with an ambulance to a nearby hospital where he had three stitches on the head. The protesters kept demanding the release of their arrested colleagues, local newspaper tharros.gr reported.

The nine Egyptian nationals, survivors of the shipwreck, are being accused that they took turns navigating the overcrowded vessel and managing passengers. They protest their innocence, citing improper identification procedures.

It is estimated that approximately 700 migrants were on board the vessel when it sank off the coast of Pylos. Only 104 people were rescued, while just 81 bodies were recovered.

The trial started with defense lawyers questioning the jurisdiction of the court in Kalamata. The lawyers argued that the court does not as the shipwreck occurred in international waters, and those aboard were not trying to go to Greece, as made clear by the boat’s route.

The prosecutor argued that in order to decide the jurisdictional issue, it must be shown whether part or all of the criminal acts alleged took place in Greek territorial waters. some 47 nautical miles off the Greek shore, and specifically: where was the boat, where was it headed, was it sailing in international waters. The prosecutor has practically asked that the trial continues in Kalamata until issues have been clarified.

Ultimately, the court in Kalamata abandoned the case on the grounds that the deadly Pylos shipwreck took place in international waters thus the court did not have the jurisdiction for this case.

After 11 months in custody, the 9 Egyptian defendants have been released.

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One comment

  1. Nobody_Important

    This is just another example of the increasing authoritarianism and lawlessness of the current Greek government. First of all, Greece has no jurisdiction over international waters. Secondly, there is strong evidence that Greek state institutions caused the shiowreck. Thirdly, casting the Egyptian passengers involved in piloting the boat as smugglers is a cynical and nasty way of attacking refugee migrations. No smugglers travel on these boats: they recruit passengers to pilot them, for a reduced smuggling fee.

    The legal case that should be before the courts is how the Greek coastguard behaved, and whether there were instructions from central government to act illegally. My own belief is that this goes directly to Mitsotakis.