Greek Court Drops Shipwreck Case Against Nine Egyptians

By John Mercury May 22, 2024

Nearly a year after one of the deadliest shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea, off southern Greece, a court in Kalamata dropped criminal charges on Tuesday against nine Egyptians charged in connection with the tragedy. The court deemed that Greece did not have the jurisdiction to try the case, as the trawler sank in international waters.

Lawyers for the defendants, who were on the trawler when it sank but were accused of smuggling and other crimes, hailed the decision as belated justice. But the court did not rule on whether the Egyptian men were guilty or not — only that the case was not for Greece to decide.

The outlook for the case is now unclear, including where else it may be tried. A separate investigation by the naval court into the shipwreck and the actions of the Greek coast guard is continuing; the effect of Tuesday’s ruling on that inquiry is also undetermined.

More than 700 people are believed to have been on the rusty fishing trawler Adriana when it sank on June 14 off the southern coast of Greece, en route to Italy from Libya. Only 104 people survived — all men and boys, most of whom were from Syria, Egypt and Pakistan. Survivors’ testimonies said that women and children were onboard, too, but on lower decks and unable to escape.

Eighty-two bodies were recovered; the rest of the passengers were never found, as the vessel sank in one of the deepest parts of the Mediterranean, making recovery efforts essentially impossible.

Of the survivors, nine Egyptian men were detained in June on charges of migrant smuggling, membership of a criminal organization and causing a deadly shipwreck. They would have faced multiple life terms in prison if convicted.


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