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9 Egyptians seem in Greek courtroom over lethal migrant shipwreck

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ATHENS, Greece — 9 Egyptian males accused of belonging to a human smuggling ring that authorities say bears duty for one of many worst migrant shipwrecks within the Mediterranean Sea appeared in courtroom in southern Greece on Tuesday for questioning over their alleged position within the catastrophe.

The 9 face costs that embrace participation in a felony group, manslaughter and inflicting a shipwreck. The listening to was happening within the southern metropolis of Kalamata.

Greater than 500 persons are believed to be lacking from final week’s sinking of the dilapidated fishing trawler, which in response to some estimates was carrying as much as 750 folks from Libya to Italy.

To this point, 81 our bodies have been recovered and 104 folks, all males, have been rescued. A search and rescue operation continues within the space, however probabilities of finding extra survivors have been exceedingly slim.

Requested in regards to the incident as World Refugee Day was marked throughout the globe Tuesday, European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen mentioned: “It’s horrible, what occurred, and the extra pressing is that we act.”

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Von der Leyen, the pinnacle of the European Union’s govt arm, mentioned the EU ought to assist African international locations like Tunisia, the place many migrants go away for Europe, to stabilize their economies, in addition to finalize a long-awaited reform of the 27-nation bloc’s asylum guidelines.

She didn’t, nevertheless, point out Libya, from the place the doomed trawler and plenty of equally overloaded Europe-bound boats depart throughout the notably harmful Mediterranean migration route.

9 Syrian and Pakistani survivors reportedly recognized the suspects over the weekend as having been concerned in crusing the ship.

5 different suspects have been arrested in Pakistan, the place police launched a crackdown this week on human smuggling after 12 Pakistani nationals have been recognized among the many survivors, officers in Islamabad mentioned Tuesday. A few of the suspects confessed to sending a few of the Pakistanis who have been on the sunken boat, they mentioned.

Family of not less than 124 folks in Pakistan have contacted authorities to search out out about lacking family members believed to be on the trawler, the officers mentioned. It’s unclear what number of Pakistanis have been on the vessel.

Some survivors have mentioned the trawler had been underneath tow by one other vessel simply earlier than it sank. Greek officers have insisted the coast guard didn’t tow the migrant ship at any level, and solely briefly had a line connected to it hours earlier than it capsized and sank in worldwide waters within the early hours of June 14.

The coast guard has additionally been broadly criticized for not making an attempt to rescue the migrants earlier than their vessel sank. It argued that they refused any help and insisted on continuing to Italy, including that it could have been too harmful to try to evacuate a whole lot of unwilling folks off an overcrowded ship.

The complete particulars stay unclear. Photographs and movies taken hours earlier than the sinking present folks crammed on all obtainable open areas of the trawler. Survivors have mentioned the ship’s inside was additionally filled with folks, together with many ladies and kids.

One survivor, Ali Sheikhi from the northeast Syrian city of Kobani, advised Kurdish TV new channel Rudaw that he and different relations from Kobani agreed to pay smugglers $4,000 every for the journey, a sum later elevated to $4,500. His youthful brother died within the shipwreck, he mentioned.

Talking late Sunday by telephone from a closed reception middle close to Athens the place survivors have been taken, Sheikhi advised the broadcaster the smugglers did not permit anybody to deliver life jackets and threw no matter meals the passengers had into the ocean.

He and his touring companions have been directed to the ship’s maintain, Sheikhi mentioned, however he managed to get out onto the deck after paying extra cash to the smugglers.

By the point the ship sank, that they had been at sea for 5 days. Water ran out after a day and a half, and he mentioned some passengers resorted to consuming seawater.

Crucially, Sheikhi mentioned the trawler went down after its engine broke down and one other vessel tried to tow it.

“Within the pulling, (the trawler) sank,” he mentioned. “We don’t know who it belonged to.” Comparable claims have been made by different survivors in accounts posted on social media, and different survivors have been anonymously quoted in Syrian media Monday saying the ship was being towed.

Most survivors have been transported to a migration middle north of Athens, together with 10 individuals who have been launched from hospital and transported to the middle on Monday, Greece’s Migration Ministry mentioned. A hotline has additionally been arrange for relations looking for info on lacking family members.


Related Press author Munir Ahmed in Islamabad, Pakistan, and Lorne {Cook} in Brussels, Belgium contributed to this story.


Comply with AP’s protection of worldwide migration at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

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