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Greek Minister Resigns Following Passenger’s Death on Ferry

Passenger’s Death on Ferry
A large crowd blocked the departure of the Blue Horizon Ferry in Iraklion, Crete last week protesting the “murder” of the passenger. Credit: Facebook/Pame Iraklion

A Greek minister resigned on Monday following the uproar caused by his comments following the death of a ferry passenger who was pushed by members of the crew into the water last week.

Greek Shipping and Island Policy Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis offered his resignation to PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis which was accepted.

Following the tragic death of 36-year-old Antonis Karyotis at Piraeus port while attempting to board the Blue Horizon ferry, Varvitsiotis said:

“Today, there are people mourning the unjustly lost; but the families of those who went to earn a wage, a day’s pay, and are now being accused of murder, are also mourning.”

This statement caused an uproar as it was seen equating the plight of the victim with those who caused his death.

Opposition parties demanded his resignation despite the fact that the minister tried to clarify that he meant something different from what everyone understood. Ultimately, he issued an apology.

In a statement on Monday Varvitsiotis said: “A statement of mine that was easily misinterpreted, caused indignation. I immediately apologized sincerely. I was in no way equating the victim with the perpetrators. In no way did I wash away the responsibilities that the ship-owning company has, which it still refuses to assume. That is why I submitted my resignation to the Prime Minister. I thank him for his trust.”

Varvitsiotis was replaced by Christos Stylianides, a Greek Cypriot politician who served from 2021 to 2023 as Greece’s Minister for the Climate Crisis and Civil Protection. He has previously served as the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management from 2014 until 2019.

The death of ferry passenger caused uproar in Greece

The death of Karyotis caused widespread anger in Greece. A video that went viral on social media showed Kariotis running onto the ferry loading ramp, which was still down, and crew members stopping him and pushing him back three times.

The man fell into the sea, and despite passengers screaming that he was in the water, the ferry left as initially scheduled.

Two of the four crew members of the Blue Horizon ferry arrested for their involvement in the death of the passenger were jailed until their trial early Monday morning, after testifying before an investigative magistrate.

The captain of the ship, who faces charges of dangerous interference with maritime traffic – a felony – was additionally charged with fatal exposure.

In his testimony, he allegedly maintained that he followed the regulations when he was informed that a man had fallen into the sea and alerted the Coast Guard.

The crew member who is accused of pushing the 36-year-old passenger into the sea and is facing charges of manslaughter with possible malice allegedly took responsibility for what happened but said he does not accept the “legal description” of the charge against him.

Related: Ferry Strike in Greece Following Death of Passenger

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