NEWS

3 years on and still no Samina trial

Tomorrow is the third anniversary of the sinking of the Express Samina ferry and it is still not known who will stand trial and what charges they will face in connection with a tragedy that cost the lives of 80 passengers and crew. The ferry sank quickly on a stormy night on September 26, 2000 after it struck a well-marked outcrop of rocks just outside the port of Paros. Responding to a national sense of shock, Prime Minister Costas Simitis promised that «full light will be cast (on the incident) as swiftly as possible and those responsible for the tragedy will be brought to trial.» But what has followed has been a legal roundabout, with charges of varying seriousness being thrown at crew members and representatives of the shipowning company, Minoan Flying Dolphins (now known as Hellenic Flying Dolphins). The initial investigation took two-and-a-half years to complete and the first indictment (No. 71/2002) handed down by the Aegean Appeals Court called for five crew members to face misdemeanor charges while MFD representatives should face no charges. Then Supreme Court prosecutor Evangelos Kroustallakis proposed that the captain and another three officers face felony charges, as should the legal representatives of shipowners Minoan Flying Dolphins. The judge who investigated the case had sent six of the ship’s officers and company representatives to trial on felony charges, but this had been overruled by a council of appeals court judges. Now their ruling, too, was overruled and an appeals court judge made a new proposal, calling for Captain Vassilis Yiannakis, First Mate Tassos Psychogios, Second Mate Yiannis Triandafyllos and First Engineer Gerassimos Skiadaressis to be tried on criminal charges of murder with possible premeditated malice. The Supreme Court said MFD representatives Costas Klironomos and Nikos Vikatos should be tried for endangering the passengers’ lives. With the new proposals the two officials would also be indicted. Reliable sources said that a new prosecutor’s proposal would be made to the Aegean Council of Appeal Court Judges.