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Anger Builds in Greece After Man is Pushed to His Death by Ferry's Crew

Blue Horizon ferry protestors
Protestors blocked the departure of the ferry yelling "murder" at the crew (Pame/Facebook)

Published Sep 7, 2023 3:12 PM by The Maritime Executive

Outrage has continued to grow across Greece after the reports that crewmembers from an inter-island ferry pushed a late-arriving passenger to his death Tuesday night and did nothing to help the man when he fell into the harbor. The repercussions from the incident are mounting both within the government and the shipping industry while four members of the ship’s crew were officially brought up on charges stemming from the altercation with the 36-year-old man.

Greece’s Minister of Shipping and Island Policy, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis responded to public pressure and the media offering further details while promising a full investigation. He confirmed earlier reports that the passenger had purchased a ticket and for unknown reasons had left the ship and then ran back as it was starting to depart and jumped onto the car ramp which was still down. He was pushed back by a crewmember, attempted to get aboard for a second time, and was pushed falling into the water as the Blue Horizon ferry moved away from the dock. The coroner said he drowned although reports are also saying there was a small contusion on his head possibly from hitting the dock or the ramp. Some passengers contend he was hit by the propellers.

Under pressure from the public, the government reportedly has been pressuring the shipping company to take greater responsibility. Attica Group, which owns Blue Star Ferries, made two statements apologizing to the family and friends while calling it an “unjust loss” and saying it happened in an “unimaginable way.”

Wednesday, protestors in the Iraklion port in Crete gathered with the newspapers saying the crowd was blocking the ship’s departure and yelling “murders” at the crew of the ferry. The vessel’s departure was delayed according to the report by five hours.

Today, Attica Group issued a further statement announcing that the board had accepted the resignation of its CEO Spyridon Paschalis. The CFO was named as his interim replacement while the board is promising an “in-depth investigation with the assistance of independent external advisors.” They said they were working to ensure procedures and protocols were never violated again. 

The port authority has already cited the ship for a violation involving departing the dock with its ramp not secured. In addition, media reports are saying that the bridge camera showed a person going overboard but that the captain did not stop the departure. For its part, the shipping company told the media that there was no altercation when the captain ordered the departure and the incident only began after the ropes had been cast off and they were starting the engines.

Dissatisfied by the response, public indignation has centered on the Shipping Ministry and the Coast Guard. The Ministry said it would be investigating the Coast Guard’s role and why no officer was at the ship as required by law. 

The captain of the ship and three crewmembers appeared before a Greek prosecutor on Wednesday. The media is reporting that the captain is being charged with a felony for dangerous navigation. The crewmember who pushed the man is charged with manslaughter while two other crewmembers who witnessed the incident are being charged with complicity to manslaughter. 

Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed his personal “disgust and horror,” promising to take all necessary measures to establish accountability and justice.