Trial over Samina’s sinking to begin today

Four years and eight months after 80 lives were lost off the island of Paros in one of Greece’s worst-ever ferry accidents, eight people are to go on trial today in Piraeus over the Express Samina shipwreck. However, fears were expressed yesterday that the courthouse where the trial is to be held is severely lacking in basic safety standards, which could pose a major risk to life and limb in case of fire or other accident. Court sources said the trial would go ahead, and might be moved elsewhere if problems arose. The eight defendants are the ship’s captain Vassilis Yiannakis, First Mate Anastassios Psychoyios, Second Mate Giorgos Triandafyllos, First Engineer Gerasimos Skiadaressis, Radio Officer Dimitris Tsoumas, seaman Panayiotis Kasdaglis and two former representatives of the passenger ferry firm, Minoan Flying Dolphins – since renamed Hellenic Seaways – Costas Klironomos and Nikolaos Vikatos. The Samina sank after hitting a rock off Paros in September 2000. Yiannakis and Psychoyios face criminal charges of manslaughter with possible malice aforethought, causing bodily harm through negligence, breaching shipping security and causing a shipwreck. Triandafyllos and Skiadaressis face the same charges, but on a misdemeanor level. Tsoumas and Kasdaglis have been charged with abandoning ship without permission, a misdemeanor, while Klironomos and Vikatos are accused – again as misdemeanors – of exposing the ship’s passengers and crew to danger by not ensuring that an emergency generator was in good condition and not replacing worn life vests.