Samina crew receive long prison terms

An Athens court yesterday handed down heavy jail terms on the captain and first mate of the Express Samina ferry, which sank off Paros in September 2000 with the loss of 82 lives, after deeming that the tragedy had been provoked by poor navigation and not mechanical failure. The court also delivered lighter sentences to five other defendants, including two former ferry firm representatives. The ferry's captain Vassilis Yiannakis received a 16-year jail sentence after being found guilty of a mix of crimes and misdemeanors, including the disruption of sea transport with possible malice aforethought, causing a shipwreck through negligence and serial manslaughter through negligence. Yiannakis's first mate Anastassios Psychoyios got a 19-year sentence for the same crimes. According to witnesses, Psychoyios had been watching football on television when the ferry hit the rocks. The court also found five defendants guilty of a string of misdemeanors and handed them jail terms ranging from 15 months to eight years and nine months - terms suspended until after an appeal. The five are the ship's second mate, first engineer and radio officer - Giorgos Triantafyllos, Gerasimos Skiadaressis and Dimitris Tsioumas respectively - and two former representatives of the ferry's operating firm, Nikolaos Vikatos and Costas Klironomos. The Samina's helmsman and a Merchant Marine Ministry inspector responsible for examining the vessel were exonerated. Relatives of shipwreck victims and survivors expressed satisfaction with the verdicts passed down on senior crew members but said they had hoped for stricter sentences for the two members of the ferry operating firm, who received four-year sentences, and the ministry inspector, who was acquitted. «It seems to me that the sergeants were sacrificed to protect the generals, who are the real guilty parties,» survivor Stamatis Kotsornithis told Kathimerini after the court issued its verdict.