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Greece accused of ignoring EU offer to monitor migrant boat

A migrant boat that capsized last week in the Mediterranean Sea, killing at least 82 people and possibly hundreds more, was not monitored by a plane offered by the EU border agency Frontex.

Frontex had spotted the overcrowded fishing boat early in the morning of 13 June in international waters moving towards Greece, but had to refuel. Frontex says it offered to send the plane back to the fishing boat to monitor the situation, but that the Greek coast guard never replied.

The Greek authorities have denied any negligence or delay in responding to the disaster, insisting that those onboard told coastguards they wanted to be left alone so they could travel to Italy. Its also found that the migrant boat hardly moved for at least seven hours before it capsized, contradicting the official account.

The boat had set out from Libya and was carrying mostly Pakistanis, Egyptians and Syrians who were seeking a better life in Europe. More than 100 people were rescued, but survivors have estimated that as many as 750 people may have been on the boat, including around 100 children in the hold.

On Monday, nine Egyptian men appeared in court in Greece to face charges of negligent manslaughter, exposing lives to danger, causing a shipwreck and human trafficking. All pleaded not guilty.

The incident has sparked outrage and grief among the families of the victims and human rights groups who have called for an independent investigation and accountability. It has also highlighted the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean, where more than 1,000 people have died this year trying to reach Europe by sea.

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