Greek Shipping Minister Resigns Over Ferry Death, Legal Charges Against Crew

Greece’s shipping minister stepped down on Monday following the death of a man who was pushed off a ferry ramp by a crew member for being late.

Greek Shipping Minister Resigns Over Ferry Death, Legal Charges Against Crew

A Greek prosecutor has brought criminal charges against the captain of the island ferry and three crew members involved in the incident at the port of Piraeus near Athens on September 5. Andonis Kargiotis, aged 36, drowned as a result, and one crew member faces a charge of homicide with possible intent.

Amateur video posted online captured the passenger attempting to board the Blue Horizon ferry’s loading ramp as it was departing for the island of Crete. He made multiple attempts to pass two crew members, and when he tried again, he was pushed off the ramp. The footage shows him disappearing into the churning water created by the ferry’s departure as crew members step back. Although the ship was eventually ordered to return, the man was found unresponsive and later declared to have drowned by a medical examiner.

Following the incident, Minister of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy Miltiadis Varvitsiotis submitted his resignation. In an online post, he expressed his disbelief that Greek sailors had pushed aside and abandoned a young man in violation of longstanding rules for the protection of human life at sea.

Greek Shipping Minister Resigns Over Ferry Death, Legal Charges Against Crew

Varvitsiotis, aged 54, faced accusations from political opponents of initially downplaying the ferry incident. He assumed the role of maritime minister after Greece’s conservative government secured a significant reelection victory in June. Last week, he issued an apology for comments made in a private television interview, expressing sympathy for the indicted crew members. In the interview, he remarked, “There are those who grieve for the man so unfairly lost and also those who grieve for the people who went to earn their wage, a day’s pay, who now find themselves accused of murder.”

Christos Stylianides, a former Greek Cabinet member in charge of disaster response, was named as Varvitsiotis’s replacement on Monday.

Despite its convincing election victory three months ago, the Greek government has faced criticism for its handling of major wildfires and ongoing massive floods this summer.

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