Update-Report on the trial of the 9 Egyptian survivors in Kalamata and on the one year since the Pylos shipwreck

Update-Report on the trial of the 9 Egyptian survivors in Kalamata and on the one year since the Pylos shipwreck

The trial of the 9 Egyptian survivors from the Pylos’ shipwreck at the 21th of May in front of the Three-member Court of Criminal Appeals of Kalamata ended with the acquittal of the defendants for the crime of trafficking and illegal entrance and their discharge for the crimes of causing shipwreck and of criminal organization, due to the fact that the court assessed that it has no jurisdiction because the shipwreck took place in high seas. The defendants were represented in the court room by Vicki Agelidou, Alexis Georgoulis, Efi Doussi, Chrisanthi Kaouni, Eugenia Kouniaki, Natassa Dailiani, Spiros Pantazis and Dimitris Choulis, as defense counsels. During the examination of the objection of jurisdiction proposed by the defense counsels, Miltiadis Zouridakis, captain of the 920 Coast Guard Ship, who is denounced for towing the Adriana ship, and Iraklis Tornatzis, coast-guard officer, were examined as witnesses. After local and nationwide callings, a protest was held outside the court, organized by antiracist and antifascist organizations and specifically the Antifascist movement of Kalamata, KEERFA, the open Assembly against push backs, the Anarchist Political Federation, of collectivities and labor unions of the city, such as the Association of First-Grade Teachers of Messinia, the Association of Retired from IKA-EFKA, the Union of Employees in Private Sector and representatives of the regional part of ADEDY and others. We remark that during the protest, the activists and the unions faced unprovoked police brutality. Inside the court, there was presence of people in solodarity, lawyers and representatives of organizations of human rights, while the progress of the court was covered through Twitter by the Journalistic Observatory with the help of Omnia Tv ( You can find the coverage here  https://tinyurl.com/c7ku988y and here https://tinyurl.com/yufujhvt ).

As an Initiative of Lawyers and Jurists, we estimate that the court, following the rule of law, overturned the handling (until then) of the case by the judicial authorities and we appreciate the fact that the 9 survivors are not in prison, even though one of them still remains administratively detained. We remark that during the stage of preliminary proceeding, the lawyers of the 9 Egyptian survivors of the shipwreck had complained about serious deficiencies regarding the compliance with the substantive and procedural guarantees and specifically deficiencies regarding the taking of statements, the investigation of the circumstances of the shipwreck and obstacles to the exercise of their rights of defense, as well as denying without any justification demands for witnesses and evidence, while crucial researches and expert opinions have not happened to this day. From the beginning, the attribution of the blame and responsibility for ‘causing the shipwreck’ to individuals who were also refugees and being trafficked, but who were pointed out by state figures as culpable for the death of more than 600 human lives, was aiming to misdirect the judicial investigation, has created the reasonable belief that the aim was to cover up the responsibilities of those who were in charge for the rescue from the Greek authorities.

We denounce the unjustified prolongation of the “administrative detention” of the 9 Egyptian survivors, who have already applied for asylum. Following actions by the defense lawyers, the 8 survivors have already been released while the completion of the objection procedure for the last one is pending. The lawyers of the defendants have denounced the unjustified continuation of the detention in their public statement ( the whole statement here: https://tinyurl.com/asmuf84y ).

After the acquittal of the 9 Egyptian survivors and their due release, the judicial investigation owes to turn to the real responsible for the committed crime: The Piraeus Maritime Court, before which a lawsuit filed from the 53 survivors of the shipwreck is pending, must now investigate and prosecute those responsible among the Greek Coast Guard for causing the shipwreck, responsible both for omission of due action for rescuing as well as for the attempt to tow the fishing ship which had as an instant consequence its reversal and sinking. The Greek Coast Guard denies that aforementioned towing, however there are dozens of witnesses from the survivors who confirm it.  

Finally, the legal and unimpeded residence in Greece should be ensured for the survivors of the shipwreck in order to avoid further victimisation.

As the Initiative of Lawyers and Jurists for the Pylos shipwreck, we will continue to demand a true, objective, independent and exhaustive investigation of the circumstances of the criminal shipwreck which led to the death of 650 of our fellow human beings.

In view of the one-year remembrance day of the shipwreck, we participate in the press conference that will take places on Thursday 13 June 2024 at the Athens Bar Association at the initiative of lawyers and organizations representing the surviving plaintiffs and victims’ relatives, as well as participate in the rally-march on Friday 14 June 2024 at 7pm at the Propylaea. We also participate in the memorial and protest events in Kalamata on Saturday 15 June 2024 at 18.00 at the Central Square (march) and at 20.00 at the Park of the Coast Guard (concert).