Greek authorities accused of insufficient investigation into fatal migrant boat sinking

In a joint report released on Thursday, leading international human rights groups, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have criticised Greek authorities for their alleged failure to adequately investigate the circumstances surrounding a migrant boat sinking that claimed the lives of hundreds six months ago.

The report asserts that there has been “little meaningful progress” in examining claims made by survivors that the rescue mission was both delayed and mishandled. 

The vessel, named “Adriana,” a dilapidated fishing trawler, succumbed to the waves on 14 June southwest of the Greek mainland during its journey from Libya to Italy, with an estimated 750 people on board.

Of those aboard, 104 were rescued, predominantly migrants from Syria, Pakistan, and Egypt, while 82 bodies were recovered in the aftermath.

The comprehensive report, based on interviews with 21 survivors, five relatives of missing individuals, and representatives from the Greek coast guard and police, contends that a series of failures, including overcrowding and the vessel being deemed unseaworthy, contributed to the tragic shipwreck.

Judith Sunderland, an associate director at Human Rights Watch for Europe and central Asia, emphasized, “The survivors and the families of the missing and dead deserve a full accounting of what happened.” 

She affirmed that their research confirms a “catalog of failures” that led to the fatal incident.

Several survivors have contested the official Greek account, refuting claims that assistance offers were declined by those on the trawler. 

These allegations prompted an independent investigation initiated last month by Greece’s state ombudsman, which highlighted the coast guard’s failure to conduct an internal disciplinary inquiry into its response on June 14. In September, 40 survivors took legal action against Greek authorities.

As of Thursday, there has been no immediate response from Greek authorities regarding the report. Government officials, however, have dismissed criticism of the coast guard as unjust, maintaining that blame rests squarely on smugglers who overload migrants onto unseaworthy vessels. 

The coast guard vehemently denies allegations made by survivors that it made a futile attempt to tow the vessel before it sank.

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