• Press Release

Greece: One year On From the Pylos Shipwreck, the Hellenic Coast Guard’s Role Must Be Properly Investigated

June 13, 2024

(Greek Coast Guard/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Little progress has been made in investigating the shipwreck of an overcrowded trawler, the Adriana, off the coast of Pylos, Greece on June 14, 2023, according to Amnesty International and Human Right Watch.

The boat was carrying an estimated 750 people, mainly from Syria, Pakistan and Egypt. Only 104 people survived, 82 bodies were recovered but only 58 identified. More than 500 people remain missing. A Greek Naval Court’s investigation into the potential liability of the Hellenic Coast Guard for the shipwreck, opened in June 2023, remains at the preliminary stage.

On the first anniversary of the tragedy, Judith Sunderland, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said:

“It is unconscionable that one year since this horrific tragedy the investigation into the potential liability of the Hellenic Coast Guard has barely progressed. We need to see a credible process for accountability and an end to the cycle of violence and impunity at Greece’s borders.”

Adriana Tidona, Migration Researcher at Amnesty International, said:

“Hundreds of families have been left in limbo, awaiting the truth on the fate of their loved ones. The Greek authorities must advance in their investigations into the potential liability of the coast guard in this incident to finally bring justice and closure to all those affected.”

On June 13, 2023, the Greek authorities were alerted to an overcrowded trawler, the Adriana in their search and rescue region; it sank 15 hours later. Research by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International and others reported failures by the Greek authorities in the hours leading up to the shipwreck and serious allegations that a Hellenic Coast Guard patrol boat caused the trawler to capsize while attempting to tow it.

Non-governmental organizations joined the case before the Greek Naval Court with a complaint on behalf of 53 survivors alleging that Greek authorities were responsible for the shipwreck. Survivors and families have been left in limbo as more than 500 people are estimated to remain missing.

On May 21, the criminal court in Kalamata dismissed a case against nine survivors who were accused of smuggling and causing the shipwreck, among other serious charges, and had been detained for 11 months at the time of the trial. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch had expressed concerns over the fairness of the trial, saying that the case was based on incomplete and questionable evidence given that the investigation into the role of the Coast Guard has not yet been completed.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch also reported concerns about the integrity of the evidence gathered as part of investigations into the shipwreck.

The Naval Court prosecutor’s request for forensic analysis of coast guard officers’ phones – only seized by authorities in late September 2023, over two months after the events – is still pending.

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