Kassem Abo Zeed, 34, from Syria, holds up a photo on his mobile of his missing wife Israa who were on the ship with refugees and migrants that sank off Pylos, in the port of Kalamata, southwest of Athens, Greece, 15 June 2023. EFE/EPA/YANNIS KOLESIDIS

9 suspects in Greece migrant boat tragedy summoned to testify

Athens, June 19 (EFE).- The nine men who were arrested after an overcrowded trawler carrying hundreds of migrants capsized last week in the Ionian Sea killing at least 78 people and leaving hundreds missing have been summoned to testify before the prosecutor’s office in the Greek city of Kalamata on Monday.

Fardi (L) from Syria, hugs his rescued brother Mohamed (R), between a fence in the port of Kalamata, Greece, 16 June 2023. EFE/EPA/YANNIS KOLESIDIS

The nine suspects of Egyptian nationality, who were also among the 104 people rescued from the shipwreck, were arrested by the authorities on Thursday and charged with conspiring to traffic undocumented migrants.

Paramedics of the Greek National Emergency Ambulance Service (EKAV) transfer a migrant to their ambulance, in Kalamata, Greece, 16 June 2023. EFE/EPA/YANNIS KOLESIDIS

They could also face charges of people smuggling, causing a shipwreck, and putting lives in danger.

A handout photo made available by the Hellenic Coast Guard on 14 June 2023 shows a fishing vessel carrying a large number of migrants sailing in international waters, near western Peloponnese. EFE/EPA/HELLENIC COAST GUARD / HANDOUT

On Sunday, nine survivors traveled from a migrant center on the outskirts of Athens – where the rescued were transferred to -, to testify over the events that led to the tragic sinking of the fishing boat which was thought to be carrying between 500 and 700 migrants on board.

The defense team may request a delay in their testimony as they say they have not had access to the entire case file.

Search operations continued on Sunday for a sixth day, although the chances of finding survivors are very slim.

According to the ERT state broadcaster, the boat left Egypt, made a stopover in eastern Libya, where the migrants boarded, and then continued to Italy.

“My wife and my children were put in the boat’s hold,” Rana, a 24-year-old Pakistani, told the Greek Kathimerini newspaper.

“Those who did not have time to get out sank with the ship, including my wife and children,” he added.

The nine suspects have denied belonging to a human trafficking network, according to local press reports. EFE