Europe’s Police Force Will Review Shipwreck After Major Shortcomings Revealed

(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)

Europe’s police force (Europol) said it will be reviewing the shipwreck that caused around 500 refugees to drown in the Mediterranean Sea this year after the BBC and Reuters uncovered a lag in the rescue efforts by law enforcements.

Head of Europol Rob Wainwright said his police force will reexamine the incident that took place on April 9 because of “the absence of any clear answers” and admitted that the report by the BBC and Reuters revealed a “gap here in the collective response by Europe.”

The loss of 500 lives that day brought up “uncomfortable” questions, said Wainwright, as Reuters reported that not a single country operating missions in the Mediterranean Sea opened an investigation into the devastating shipwreck.  

Neither the Italians, where the refugees on board the capsized ship were originally headed, nor Greece, where the survivors were taken, opened up an investigation to look into any possible criminal activity involved in the incident.

Even the UN, the EU, and NATO did not look into the shipwreck saying that launching an investigation to look into it was not their responsibility.

Contrary to previous reports, the boat had originated from Egypt and not from Libya, according to BBC Newsnight.

The 37 refugees that survived the shipwreck made it to Greece on April 16. The survivors said that the smugglers would forcefully prevent people from saving those who were drowning and the smugglers left when there were close to 100 people alive.

Of the 500 who lost their lives it is estimated that 190 of them were Somalis, about 150 Ethiopians, 80 Egyptians and around 85 from Sudan, Syria and a few other countries.

A Reuters investigation was able to figure out who the smugglers were and who owned the capsized boat. The smugglers were also able to get survivors to lie about where the boat departed from. Some survivors lied and said the boat departed from Tobruk, Libya when the boat actually left from Alexandria, Egypt.

Egyptian officials on the other hand said they were not able to confirm nor provide further information regarding the April 7 shipwreck.

Egypt will take measures to stop smugglers and has passed new laws preventing illegal migration, said Judge Khaled Al-Nashar, assistant to Egypt’s Minister of Justice for Parliamentary and Media Affairs.

“If the occurrence of such a crime is proven, Egypt certainly will not hesitate to conduct the necessary investigations to uncover it and arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice,” added Al-Nashar.

Sabry Tolba, an Egyptian lawyer representing some of the families who died in the shipwreck said, “I consider putting 500 people on this boat to be murder. There is no other way to describe it.”

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