Greek Court Throws Out Shipwreck Trial Against Nine Men

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A court in Greece has abandoned the trial of nine Egyptian men accused of causing the biggest migrant shipwreck in the Mediterranean Sea for a decade.

The judges in the southern port city of Kalamata ruled they did not have jurisdiction to hear the case on the grounds the vessel sank in international waters.

It is feared more than 600 people drowned last June when an overcrowded fishing boat, the Adriana, sank on its way to Europe from Libya.

The accused had faced life in prison if convicted of people-smuggling and causing the sinking of the boat. There were cheers among protesters outside the court as the judges’ decision to drop the case became clear.

The indictment seen by the media showed that the defendants were being prosecuted on evidence that had already been contradicted by at least six survivors who claimed the coastguard had caused their boat to capsize and then pressured them to frame the Egyptians. Reports said

Human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, said they had strong reservations about the integrity of the Greek investigation and evidence and questioned whether the defendants would receive a fair trial.

The Greek coastguard has constantly denied their actions brought about the disaster, and the authorities have rejected all claims of wrongdoing or of a cover-up. The allegations are being considered by the Greek Naval Court.

Defendants
The nine defendants, who are Egyptian and aged between 20 and 41, went on trial on Tuesday.

The men were all on board the “Adriana” fishing boat that sank in international waters, but in Greece’s demarcated rescue area, in one of the deepest parts of the Mediterranean on 14 June last year.

The prosecutor had earlier conceded the defence’s argument that there was no legal basis to try the men because the ship went down outside of Greek waters, albeit in the demarcated Greek rescue zone.

Eighty-two bodies were recovered, but the United Nations believes an additional 500 people – including 100 women and children who were in the hold of the boat – may have died.

It’s estimated the boat was carrying up to 750 migrants when it set off nearly a week earlier from the port of Tobruk in Libya.

 

 

 

BBC/Shakirat Sadiq

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