Samina charges are toned down

Five of the nine people who faced criminal charges for the Express Samina shipwreck four years ago, in whch 80 died, have had their charges reduced to misdemeanors by an appeals court, legal sources said on Saturday. The ferry sank on September 26, 2000 after striking rocks just off Paros. Following the incident, prosecutors indicted five crew members, two safety inspectors and two managers of the shipowning company, attributing «possible malice aforethought» to their alleged offences. Three of the officers and the two company officials appealed the decision. Judges have now decided that the Aegean court which charged the men misinterpreted the law on premeditation. Instead, the five will face negligence charges. Under Greek law, misdemeanor charges lapse if suspects are not tried within five years of the incident. The ferry captain, his first mate and two safety inspectors have not appealed against the criminal charges so far.