Crete court reverses ruling on Baris migrant smuggling ship, acquits defendants


A court in Iraklio, Crete, has reversed a previous decision to convict to more than 500 years in prison five crewmen of the Baris, a freighter found packed with 586 men, women and children trying to enter Europe clandestinely in 2014.

The charges against all five defendants were dropped on Monday after the court ruled that it does not have the jurisdiction to try the case since the Baris was towed to Crete after suffering engine failure in international waters on November 25, 2018. 

The court said they should be tried in Kiribati, the Central Pacific island republic, whose flag the Baris was flying.

News of the defendants’ acquittal was met with concern by officers of the Hellenic Coast Guard who handled the case and heard the migrants’ testimony about their 12-day ordeal packed into the cargo hold on choppy seas, as the Baris had set sail from Turkey on November 13.