Freedom for the 9 survivors accused in Greece of the sinking of the fishing boat 'Adriana' | International | EUROtoday

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The court docket of the town of Kalamata (80,000 inhabitants, within the south of Greece) has withdrawn this Tuesday all costs in opposition to 9 survivors of the sinking of the fishing boat Adriana, accused of being accountable for the loss of life of lots of of migrants within the Ionian Sea on June 14. The judges have accepted the protection's request during which they argued that the occasions occurred outdoors Greek jurisdiction, in worldwide waters. The protection legal professionals argued that the vacation spot of this vessel – which has suffered one of many best tragedies within the Mediterranean – was Italy and that the flag of the fishing vessel was not Greek, so Greece doesn’t have the ability to evaluate.

The judges agreed to query a number of witnesses and the accused, however solely with the goal of clarifying whether or not their intention was to land in Greece, in a port or in its territorial waters. Both the coast guard captain and the accused agreed that the ship had left Libya certain for Italy. The prosecutor, after a break, adhered to what was acknowledged by the protection and recalled that Greek legislation doesn’t apply in worldwide waters.

The Kalamata court docket, after a quick deliberation, agreed with the protection. Shouts of pleasure broke out within the room. The police current, who till then had remained emotionless, allowed the family members to hug the accused – 9 Egyptians between 21 and 41 years previous -, now formally freed from all costs. Some brokers even agreed to take images with members of the family, who couldn’t include their tears of emotion.

The day had began with a really tense environment. Dozens of individuals gathered to indicate their solidarity with migrants had been surrounded by a powerful police pressure. One of the riot squads charged minutes earlier than the listening to started and arrested three members of the Pame union (Greek acronym for the All Workers' Militant Front). In the courtroom, the presence of dozens of OPKE brokers (equal to the Spanish geos) confirmed that this was not simply any trial.

The Prosecutor's Office accused the 9 males of being accountable for the sinking of the Adriana and requested for a number of life sentences for every of them. The previous fishing boat has been mendacity since June 14, 2023 within the Calypso trench, one of many deepest factors within the Mediterranean, together with the our bodies of some 600 lacking folks, of which at the very least 100 had been girls and kids.

The dilapidated ship had left Libya 5 days earlier, ostensibly exceeding its carrying capability. About 750 folks had been packed into it: Syrians, Afghans, Egyptians and Pakistanis. Men, girls – a number of pregnant -, youngsters and kids who had been trapped within the maintain of the boat with no chance of saving themselves. Only 82 our bodies had been recovered and 104 males had been rescued alive. The accused, and now acquitted, had been amongst them.

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All the witnesses had been current, together with an important one for each the prosecution and the protection: Captain Miltiadis Zouridakis, who was accountable for the LS 920, the coast guard vessel that led the Adriana surveillance operation. Several investigations based mostly on testimonies from survivors pointed to a reckless maneuver by the coast guard who went to the realm as the reason for the shipwreck.

During a break within the listening to, Zouridakis assured EL PAÍS that he and his males did every part doable to avoid wasting the lives of the passengers of the Adriana. When requested if he has learn the report from the European Border Agency (Frontex) which states that the target of the Greek authorities was by no means to stop the shipwreck and that they didn’t mobilize sufficient assets to avoid wasting the lives of the migrants, Zouridakis evaded the reply. visibly nervous. “This question puts me in a very uncomfortable position,” he stated.

“The word guilty hanging around the neck”

However, shipwreck survivor Houssam Hassan vehemently rejected the coastguard's efforts to avoid wasting them. This younger Egyptian, current on the trial as a witness, was touring within the Adriana alongside together with his brother, who was one of many accused. “The coast guard,” he advised this newspaper, “towed us in a dangerous manner until we were shipwrecked after spending 10 hours watching and doing nothing since we sent them the distress call. And to top it all off, they didn't even throw life jackets into the water as we sank alongside them.” Hassan factors to Zouridakis and says: “he has the word guilty hanging around his neck, I only think about the souls of the hundreds of children, women and men who died because of him.”

Hassan didn't perceive why his brother was detained after they had each paid 1000’s of {dollars} to board the ship. Adriana. She acknowledged that in this lengthy 12 months together with his brother in jail, she thought many instances that she would slightly be the one detained or each of them lifeless. “Today [tras la absolución] “It is the first day that I feel alive since the shipwreck,” he said with a very serious face. Wahid Ahmed, brother of another of the detainees, agreed that this year was very hard. “My brother is responsible for a very large family, that's why he wanted to emigrate.” But Wahid did smile and assured that he is the happiest person in the world.

For her part, Vicky Aggelidou, lawyer for two of the accused, described the court's decision as brave, accepting the argument put forward by the Defense regarding its lack of jurisdiction. “Now is the time for the Greek courts to find and judge the real culprits: the coast guard,” she concluded. Spiros Galinos, member of the solidarity campaign with the accused Free Pylos 9 expressed himself along the same lines: “Today justice was done for the nine survivors, but not for the hundreds of people who lost their lives in the Adriana. The Hellenic Coast Guard must be held accountable for its actions that day, as well as for its systematic illegal return operations,” he said as he left the courthouse to conclude with a forceful: “The Ionian thing was a state crime.”

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