July 30, 2014

Invitation to Press Conference on Farmakonisi shipwreck- Thursday 31 July at 12:00 hrs

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Dear all,

the Greek Council for Refugee, the Hellenic League for Human Rights, the Network of Social Support to Refugees and Migrants  - DIKTYO and the Group of Lawyers for the Rights of Migrants and Refugees cordially invite you to attend their Press Conference on Thursday, 31 July 2014, at 12:00pm, in the Venue Room of the Athens Bar Association at Akadimias Str. No 60.

The Press Conference concerns the unprecedented decision of the Prosecutor of Piraeus' Marine Court to archive the case and essentially close the judicial investigation into the responsibility of the Coast Guard staff for the tragic boat wreck near Farmakonisi island on 20 January 2014, during which 8 children and 3 women – all refugees from Afghanistan – drowned after being intercepted by the Greek Coast Guard.

The decision of Piraeus' Marine Court Prosecutor has been approved by the Prosecutor of the Military Court of Review.

Notwithstanding the statements made by representatives of UNHCR (Athens), who contacted the survivors the day after the tragic event, and notwithstanding the accusations raised by the surviving parents both publicly as well as in their subsequent testimonies before the competent Prosecutor, the case was archived. The prosecutor unequivocally accepted the statements provided by the involved coast guard personnel in their defence – a move unprecedented at this stage of the procedure. The Prosecutor also attached more weight to the initial victim statements registered by the Port Authority at Leros Island, even though these were taken in the absence of suitable interpreters and an investigation on precisely this matter is currently pending.

We consider that the responsibility of the Coast Guard staff involved in the event has not been adequately investigated; we consider the unconditional acceptance of the version of events provided by the Coast Guad to be hasty and ill-founded; we also consider unjustified the refusal to accept the truth of the statements made by the survivors both in public, before the media, as well as before the Prosecutor and the UNHCR representatives, who were never cross-examined.

We firmly believe that archiving a case during which 11 women and children lost their lives, practically approves of the pushbacks carried out in the Greek seas, perpetuates the impunity of the Coast Guard involved and shows a complete lack of will and effort to decrease the number of migrant deaths in Greece's and Europe's external borders.

We hereby invite you to attend the press conference.

Group of Lawyers for the Rights of Migrants and Refugees