Migrant shipwreck survivors file lawsuit against Greek authorities

Migrant shipwreck survivors file lawsuit against Greek authorities
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Accusations of negligence and violations of the duty to protect those on board intensify as investigations proceed.

Survivors of the devastating migrant shipwreck off the southern coast of Pylos, Greece, in June are seeking justice. According to Kathimerini, a lawsuit was filed against Greek authorities on Thursday, alleging a grave violation of their duty to safeguard the lives of those aboard the doomed vessel. The ill-fated fishing trawler, reportedly ferrying between 400 and 750 people, predominantly from Pakistan, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and Afghanistan, met its tragic end in the Ionian Sea en route to Italy. The Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) closely monitored the vessel's movement before sinking.

In a harrowing outcome, only 104 individuals were rescued alive, comprising solely men and boys. Search and rescue teams recovered 82 bodies, with just one identified as female. The remainder, including women and children, tragically found their final resting place in the Mediterranean's deep abyss, where depths reach around 4,000 meters. This makes retrieving the sunken vessel and its unfortunate passengers nearly impossible. While a comprehensive judicial probe into the disaster's causes is ongoing, conclusions may not surface for over a year.

Several international media outlets, including the BBC, New York Times, The Guardian, and German broadcaster ARD/NDR/Funk, have undertaken their investigations, spurred on by testimonies and emerging evidence. These inquiries have started to cast shadows of doubt on the initial accounts provided by the Hellenic Coast Guard. Some evidence suggests that HCG's attempts to tow the overcrowded trawler may have inadvertently caused it to capsize—a claim vehemently denied by HCG. Eyewitness accounts indicate that when the ship capsized post-midnight, the sole vessel nearby was the HCG's 920, staffed with a team that included armed special operations coast guards donning masks.

Adding another layer of scrutiny, the European Ombudsman has begun investigating claims that the European Union's border protection agency, Frontex, in conjunction with the HCG, may have failed to implement critical preventative measures that could have averted the tragic shipwreck.