Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live



Protest in Athens ahead of trial on deadly migrant boat sinking

The Greek coastguard is accused by rights activists of causing the shipwreck as it attempted to tow the migrant vessel out of Greece's zone of responsibility. Athens denies   -  
Copyright © africanews


Dozens of people held a rally in Athens on Monday in protest over last year's sinking of the Adriana, an overcrowded fishing trawler that had been sailing from Libya to Italy with hundreds of migrants on board.

It sank on June 14, 2023 in international waters off the southwestern coast of Greece.

Nine Egyptian men are due to go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday accused of causing the shipwreck - one of the Mediterranean's deadliest.

Their lawyers will argue that Greece has no jurisdiction in the case, and have insisted their clients were innocent survivors who have been unjustly prosecuted.

The exact number of people on board has never been established, but estimates range from around 500 to more than 700.

Only 104 people survived - all men and boys from Syria, Egypt, Pakistan and two Palestinians - and about 80 bodies were recovered.

While the Adriana was sailing in international waters, the area was within Greece's search and rescue zone of responsibility.

Greece's coast guard had been shadowing the vessel for a full day without attempting a rescue of those on board.

A patrol boat and at least two merchant ships were in the vicinity when the trawler capsized and sank.

In the aftermath of the sinking, some survivors said the coast guard had been attempting to tow the boat when it sank, and rights activists have accused Greek authorities of triggering the shipwreck while attempting to tow the boat out of Greece's zone of responsibility.

Greek authorities have rejected accusations of triggering the shipwreck and have insisted the trawler's crew members had refused to accept help from the nearby merchant ships and from the Greek coast guard.

Human rights groups have also accused Greek authorities of failing to properly investigate.

"We say that this is a murder. This is a crime conducted by the Greek government and the FRONTEX," Petros Constantinou, the coordinator of KEERFA (United Movement Against Racism and the Fascist Threat) told The Associated Press at Monday's protest.

The nine defendants, whose ages range from early 20s to early 40s, are due to go on trial on Tuesday in the southern city of Kalamata on a series of charges, including migrant smuggling, participation in a criminal organization and causing a deadly shipwreck.

They face multiple life sentences if convicted.

Greece lies along one of the most popular routes into the European Union for people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

View more