One year following the tragic shipwreck of January 20th, 2014, off the coast of Farmakonisi island, with 8 children and 3 women as victims.


A few days ago, the survivors of the Farmakonisi shipwreck submitted a legal redress before the European Court of Human Rights for violations of the European Convention of Human Rights (articles 2, 3 and 13). The Greek Council for Refugees, PRO ASYL, the Lawyers’ Group for the rights of Refugees and Immigrants, the Greek Union of Human Rights and the Network of Social Support of Refugees and Immigrants provide legal support to the survivors of the shipwreck from January 2014 until today.

It is reminded that following a preliminary investigation, conducted by the Prosecutor of Piraeus’ Marine Court and approved by Athens’ Court of Review, regarding the Coast Guard and/ or any other authorities’ liability in connection with the shipwreck and the death of the women and the children, the competent Prosecutor has issued an Act; Pursuant to the latter the case was archived on July 2014. It is hereby noted that according to the provision of the Greek legislation an appeal against an Act is not an option.

Pursuant to the testimonies of the survivors: The shipwreck occurred during two successional towages of their boat conducted by a Greek Coast Guard vessel, towards Turkey, with a 10 m. rope and with a high speed. During these towages water entered into the boat which resulted in the boat being capsized and sank. The boat has been left ungoverned (due to engine breakdown) in a very short distance (approximately 100 m.) from the Greek island. Prior and during the operation the survivors asked for help from the harbor and also indicated 2 of the children aboard the boat.

The day following the shipwreck (21.01.2014) a representative of UNHCR for Refugees met with the survivors and recorder the facts. On the same date, UNHCR has issued a press release ( seeking for the full investigation of the incident and where the following are recorded: “pursuant to the testimonies of the survivors, the Coast Guard vessel which towed their boat was moving with a high speed towards the Turkish coastline when the tragic event occurred within a bad weather …… people were yelling for help given that many children were aboard the boat”.

Pursuant to the Greek authorities: During the early hours of 20.01.2014 a boat, coming from Turkey, with a length of approximately 8 m., carrying many passengers and left ungoverned (possibly due to engine breakdown), is located in the sea area of 1,5 n.m. northeast the Farmakonissi island and within a bad weather condition (i.e. very high waves). It is hereby noted that the time of interception, officially recorded by the Greek authorities, varies (it was recorded as 00:35, as 01:25 and as 02:00).

Pursuant to the Greek authorities: The Directorate for the Protection of the Sea Boarders, competent inter alia for the “planning, organization, coordination and monitoring of the activities of protection of the national sea boarders and the deterrence of illegal immigration”, has been notified immediately. Pursuant to the Greek authorities, despite the fact that the incident was dealt with by the aforementioned Directorate, the mandate given to the captain of the coast guard vessel, which was carrying on a patrol in the area within the context of a joint European Operation “POSSIDON THALASSIA SINORA”, was “bring them safely to Farmakonissi for further handling”.

Pursuant to the Greek authorities (notification of the Headquarters of the Greek Coast Guard Harbor, “…. Under no circumstances had the harbor vessel conducted a towage towards the Turkish coastline; On the contrary, the boat carrying the aliens was towed towards Farmakonissi. Same is proved by the fact that the location of the shipwreck is situated on the west of the location of the interception, i.e. towards the Greek territory and more specifically towards Farmakonissi island…” However, pursuant to the official data, provided by the Greek authorities, the location of the interception is identical with the location of the shipwreck (!)

Pursuant to the Greek authorities: From 02:00 until 02:13, in a sea with intense wave the following took place: The coast guard vessel approached the boat, 2 members of the harbor staff boarded on the boat, tied up the boat with a 10m. rope and remained on board the boat; Following the above, the towage of the boat, lasting 15 minutes, was conducted by the coast guard vessel; During this first towage the part where the rope was tied has been cut and the coast guard approached again the boat, the 2 members of the harbor staff returned to the coast guard vessel and the staff threw the rope to one of the boat passengers, so as to tie it again, however the passenger’s effort failed. Then, one of the members of the staff boarded again on the boat, tied the rope and returned to the coast guard vessel. Following the above, the second towage took place, lasting 3-10 minutes, this second towage stopped, the coast guard vessel approached the boat again and the boat started sinking; Then one of the coast guard officers cut with a knife the towage rope, which resulted in the boat being capsized and sank within a few minutes and the coast guard vessel collected 16 of the passengers. However, all the aforementioned, pursuant to the official version of the Greek authorities, took place between 02:00 and 02:13, i.e. within just 13 minutes (!)

Pursuant to the Greek authorities: The incident was transformed to an incident of research and rescue and the competent Joint Center for the Coordination of Research and Rescue has been notified FOR THE FIRST TIME FOLLOWING the sinking. The Joint Center for the Coordination of Research and Rescue has as its mission to “coordinate and manage the operations of nautical and airline research and rescue, with proper procedures, infrastructure and means, pursuant to the relevant provisions and manuals of IMO and ICAO”.

Pursuant to the conclusions of a report, drafted by an expert on behalf of the survivors and submitted before the European Court of Human Rights:

The Greek authorities were obliged to notify from the first moment the competent Joint Center for the Coordination of Research and Rescue.

The inflow on the boat was due to improper towing (short length of towing rope, lifting the bow, wake by the harbor vessel, cut of the forward bollard). The aforementioned inflow generated the existence of free surface of water both on deck and on the hull below it and in the cabin. Under those circumstances, the wave conditions and the high center of gravity (due to the existence of all passengers aboard) the capsizing of the boat could be characterized as inevitable.

11 lost lives are still seeking for justice.


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