Greece court acquits nine Egyptians of Pylos shipwreck

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By Creative Media News

  • Greek court dismisses charges against nine Egyptians for lack of jurisdiction
  • Rights groups claim defendants’ fair trial rights were violated
  • Allegations persist against Greek Coast Guard for mishandling rescue

The charges against nine Egyptian men who were accused of causing a catastrophe that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of migrants last year have been dismissed by a Greek court. The prosecutor had argued that Greece lacked jurisdiction.

Public prosecutor Ekaterini Tsironi recommended that the charges be withdrawn shortly after the trial commenced on Tuesday in the southern city of Kalamata. She argued that Greek jurisdiction could not be established due to the overcrowded trawler capsizing outside the country’s territorial waters.

Before the trial, international human rights organizations contended that the defendant’s right to a fair prosecution had been violated, as they were subjected to judgment prior to the conclusion of an investigation into allegations that the Hellenic Coast Guard may have botched the rescue attempt.

Earlier on Tuesday, a small group of demonstrators engaged in a confrontation with riot police outside the court as the proceedings commenced.

If convicted of multiple criminal offenses related to the sinking of the Adriana fishing trawler on June 14, 2023, the defendants, the majority of whom are in their twenties, could have been sentenced to life in prison.

Greece court
Greece court acquits nine egyptians of pylos shipwreck

According to rights organizations and independent investigators, the trawler, which was traveling from Libya to Italy, was carrying as many as 750 individuals, and it is believed that over 550 individuals perished.

In the aftermath of the drowning, 104 individuals were rescued, with the majority of them hailing from Syria, Pakistan, and Egypt. Additionally, 82 bodies were recovered.

Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, has declared the shipwreck off the southern coast of Greece to be “horrific.”

Complaints against the Hellenic Coast Guard

The nine Egyptians, who deny the smuggling allegations, are represented by lawyers from Greek human rights groups.

Before Tuesday’s dismissal, Judith Sunderland, an associate director for Europe and Central Asia at Human Rights Watch (HRW), expressed concern that the nine survivors could be found “guilty” on the basis of incomplete and questionable evidence, as the official investigation into the coastguard’s role has not yet been finalized.

According to authorities, other survivors identified the defendants and the indictments were based on their testimonies.

Attribute the responsibility for the vessel’s flipping to the Greek coastguard, which attempted to tow it. The survivors claim that the coastguard did not act promptly enough to save the lives of those in the water.

The Hellenic Coast Guard has refuted these allegations.

Sunderland stated on X that it is crucial to bear in mind that justice will only be served through a comprehensive and transparent accounting of the Greek authorities’ responsibilities.

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A joint report by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, based on testimonies from representatives of the Hellenic Coast Guard, the Greek police, and nongovernmental organizations, also concluded that the coastguard failed to adequately respond to distress calls.

Greece’s naval court still needs to complete an investigation into the Hellenic Coast Guard’s involvement in the shipwreck.

Marion Bouchetel, a member of Legal Centre Lesvos, which is representing the accused, stated that the Pylos 9 defendants were unjustly detained and charged with smuggling offenses on the basis of limited and questionable evidence.

“Based on the survivor testimonies, our position is that these nine individuals bear no responsibility, at the very least, for the sinking.” Stefanos Levidis, one of the main researchers in an investigation into the shipwreck, stated, “The coastguard is responsible for the sinking.”

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