A three-judge misdemeanors court in the port city of Piraeus on Tuesday began hearing the case of the Sea Diamond, a cruise ship that went down off the coast of the southeastern Aegean island of Santorini in April 2007, leading to the death of two passengers.
The first day of the trial is mostly procedural, with the overall proceedings against 13 suspects expected to last over a month as some 60 witnesses are called to testify.
The 13 suspects face a variety of charges from negligent manslaughter to breaching international shipping safety regulations and polluting the environment.
The Sea Diamond, which had been operated by Cyprus-based Louis Cruise Lines since a year before the wreck, ran aground on a reef off the coast of the islet of Nea Kammeni in the Santorini caldera on April 5, 2007.
It was carrying around 1,200 passengers, two of which – Jean Christophe Allain, aged 45, and his daughter Maud, 16 – went missing and are presumed dead.
The cruise liner was carrying 450 tons of fuel when it ran aground, raising concerns that the fuel would leak into the fragile marine environment.
The precarious position of the wreck had hampered clean-up efforts, as there were concerns that trying to raise the Sea Diamond or to pump the fuel from its tanks may cause a leakage.
The fuel was eventually pumped by a private company on commission from Louis Cruise Lines at a cost of $6 million.
The wreck remains at the bottom of the sea and is surrounded by protective netting.