The Greek Ombudsman’s office has summoned around a dozen Greek officials and members of the Greek Coast Guard to testify in the investigation into the causes of the deadly shipwreck of the boat “Adriana”, which will filled with irregular migrants, off the coast of Pylos on June 14, 2023.

The investigation aims to determine whether or not actions of the Greek Coast Guard contributed to the capsizing of the boat, which based on aerial photographs and statements of survivors, was overflowing with irregular migrants.

Pylos shipwreck

A undated handout photo provided by the Hellenic Coast Guard shows migrants onboard a boat during a rescue operation, before their boat capsized on the open sea, off Greece, June 14, 2023. Hellenic Coast Guard/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

The Adriana set off from Libya and was aiming for Italy when it suffered engine failure and eventually capsized, 50 nautical miles off the southwest coast of Greece.

The precise death toll remains disputed, with the Greek authorities placing it at 82, which is based on the number of bodies retrieved from the water, while international watchdog groups and media say it is closer to 650.

The Investigation of the Greek Ombudsman’s Office

On November 9 of 2023, the Ombudsman announced that it would be conducting its own separate investigation into the role of the Greek Coast Guard in the Pylos shipwreck.

The investigation by the Greek Ombudsman is considered an extraordinary move, and is made possible by the activation of a special mechanism called the National Mechanism for the Investigation of Arbitrary (which is provided for under Greek law Gov Gazette B’ 2359/2020, art 8 par. a.).

It justified its decision in a statement to To Vima English Edition saying that despite existing inquiries, it was necessary to activate the mechanism due to “the gravity (number of drowned and possibly missing), the vulnerability of victims and the persistence of allegations for arbitrary behavior by the coastguard- and the fact that the Hellenic Coast Guard declined to open up an internal investigation.”

Other Investigations

The naval court of the Greek Coast Guard in Piraeus is currently conducting its own investigation into the Pylos shipwreck. However, the slow progress has attracted international criticism.

The third investigation, which was taking place at the criminal court of Kalamata, has recently been dropped.

The trial in Kalamata involved nine Egyptian migrants who were rescued from the shipwreck and were facing criminal charges for migrant smuggling. The charges were dropped as the court stated it did not have jurisdiction.