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GreekReporter.comGreek NewsNine Charged With Trafficking Over Greece Migrant Boat Disaster

Nine Charged With Trafficking Over Greece Migrant Boat Disaster

Greece Migrant Boat Disaster
Greek emergency workers assist survivors of the shipwreck. Credit: AMNA

Nine Egyptians have been charged with human trafficking offenses following the migrant boat disaster off Greece last week that claimed hundreds of lives. They will remain in custody until their trial.

The suspects, arrested last week in the port of Kalamata after surviving the disaster, are between 20 and 40 years old and face charges of manslaughter and forming a criminal organization. They face a sentence of up to life imprisonment if found guilty.

The men denied the charges during a hearing before a magistrate in Kalamata that lasted more than 10 hours on Tuesday.

Only 104 men and youths — Egyptians, Pakistanis, Syrians and Palestinians — survived one of the worst migrant shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea early on June 14; 82 bodies have been recovered, the last late Tuesday as a large search continued for a seventh day.

Survivors said women and children were trapped in the hold as the ship capsized and sank within minutes to one of the deepest spots in the Mediterranean.

Greek authorities still have no clear idea how many people were aboard the boat when it sank — estimates range from 400 to over 700.

A Greek navy frigate, a patrol boat and four other vessels on Tuesday searched the waters off the Peloponnese peninsula where the migrants disappeared.

But the hopes of finding any survivors are scant a week on from the disaster.

Questions raised over Greece migrant boat disaster in Greece

As questions continue to be asked about whether or not more could have been done to prevent this tragedy, the Greek Coast Guard has again defended its conduct, saying it acted according to maritime law.

The Greek coast guard said at first that the boat was on a steady course towards Italy, so it did not intervene. It later said it tried to aid the migrant boat by attaching a rope, but said the migrants untied it.

Human rights groups highlight that survivors’ testimonies contradict the coast guard’s version of events.

“The survivors are saying that the rope was given — and they understand that the cause of the incident was that rope being tied (to) them, and then the ship taking the wrong turn and sinking,” said Kondylia Gogou of Amnesty International, in an interview with VOA.

Greece continues to insist that the migrants did not ask for help and were not in danger until the boat sank. It has launched a judicial investigation into the incident. Gogou said that is not sufficient.

“We think that it’s really essential that a proper and independent and effective investigation takes place. You can see from the aerial pictures that this is an unseaworthy vessel. So, you are obliged to intervene, this is your duty. And there’s a failure, there’s a delay,” she said.

Pakistan arrests key figures in human trafficking ring

Pakistani authorities said Wednesday they have arrested seven alleged key figures in a human trafficking ring following last week’s sinking of an overcrowded smuggling vessel off Greece that left more than 500 migrants missing, including Pakistanis.

Police told The Associated Press that the ring was engaged in smuggling Pakistanis into Europe and that the arrests took place over the last two days, as part of a government crackdown on traffickers.

Thirty other suspects were arrested over the past few days in Pakistan and were being questioned for their role in facilitating smuggling activities.

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