Greek police detain nine Egyptians despite dismissal of shipwreck charges

Estimated read time 2 min read

Greek police have been accused of the “inhumane” treatment of nine Egyptian men after placing them in detention despite a court throwing out charges against them over a deadly shipwreck.

Police said on Thursday they were placing the men in custody as it was thought they could flee the country, two days after a tribunal in the southern city of Kalamata dismissed charges against them due to a lack of jurisdiction.

Up to 700 people from Pakistan, Syria and Egypt boarded a fishing trawler in Libya that was bound for Italy before it sank off south-west Greece last June. There were 104 survivors rescued and 82 bodies recovered. It was one of the deadliest shipwrecks to have taken place in the Mediterranean.

The disaster shocked Europe and the case has been followed closely in Greece, which has been a gateway to the EU for thousands of migrants and refugees.

On Tuesday a Greek court dismissed charges against the nine men of setting up a criminal group and causing the shipwreck, citing lack of jurisdiction as the disaster occurred in international waters. The court also threw out charges of illegal entry into the country and people-smuggling.

After the ruling, the men, who have spent 11 months in pre-trial detention and have pending asylum applications, were transferred to a police station where they remained in custody. It could take months for their applications to be processed.

On Thursday police said they should be detained as there was a risk that they could flee Greece. According to the decision, they will remain in detention until their asylum applications are processed.

Natasha Dailiani, one the lawyers for the men, told Reuters it was “tragic and unacceptable”, adding that the men should have been freed and that they planned to appeal against the detention order.

“It is inhumane to hold those people in detention after a court dismissed the charges against them and since they have already spent 11 months in prison in vain,” she said.

Police authorities were not immediately available for comment.

The shipwreck’s cause is officially undetermined.


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