The shipwreck of Pylos – 1 year on

June 14, 2024


One year after the deadliest shipwreck in the Aegean to date and in the history of migration to Europe in recent years, we are not only looking back on a year of incomplete and insincere processing of the events. Also, the grueling legal proceedings against the 9 defendants who were held responsible for the disaster are coming to an end.

What has become standard practice for Greek authorities in dealing with maritime accidents involving refugees seems almost unimaginably brutal in the case of the Pylos tragedy. According to the law, someone has to be held responsible for the attempted illegal entry of migrants. However, because it would be too costly and challenging to track down and uncover the real smuggling networks, often the people who are on the boats themselves are targeted by Greek and EU authorities. In the vast majority of cases these people are refugees & migrants who are self-transfering, in search of safety, opportunity or a better life. Specifically, in the tragic case of Pylos, the defendants are 9 of the 104 survivors who managed to save themselves from the sinking fishing boat “Adriana” on June 14, 2023.

On May 23, the trial of the ‘Pylos 9’ took place before the Kalamata Court of Appeals. And the charges of people smuggling and causing the shipwreck were dropped! The defense team – consisting of 9 Greek lawyers who specialize in criminalization cases – was able to prove that the Greek authorities lack jurisdiction over the defendants in the Pylos case and hence cannot try them because the shipwreck took place in international waters.

While the Pylos 9 case constitutes an important milestone on the path to justice, the inhumane treatment of the 9 survivors continued after the Court’s verdict: for the duration of the examination of their asylum application, all 9 of those who had just been acquitted were taken directly into administrative detention. Following an appeal by the legal team, 8 of them have now been finally released.

However, what happens now? How will the true cause of the shipwreck come to light and when will the real culprits be held accountable?

The legal team of the Pylos 9 continues with their work – taking the side of the 53 survivors who have filed a lawsuit against the Greek Coast Guard for the actual cause of the accident. The coast guard keeps denying having caused the fishing boat to capsize, however, dozens of survivors who were on board the Adriana vessel testify to this. The Piraeus Maritime Court is now taking up the survivors’ complaint.

We demand justice for the Pylos 9, all victims and survivors of the Pylos tragedy and all refugees who have been unlawfully and unfairly criminalised. This is why we continue to stand with the lawyers who tirelessly continue this fight for justice.

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