Pakistan collecting DNA samples to identify victims of Greece migrant boat tragedy

Islamabad/Athens, Jun 21 (EFE).- Pakistan on Wednesday launched the process of collecting DNA samples to try and identify victims of the accident involving a fishing boat that sank last week off the coast of Greece, killing at least 82 while hundreds remain missing, even as Greek authorities have sent nine human trafficking suspects in the case to preventive custody.

“The process of collecting DNA samples is being started and once completed, the samples would be sent to Greece for identification of the bodies,” Abdul Jabbar, an official at the Federal Investigation Agency handling the case, told EFE.

Although the Pakistani government has not released the number of its citizens missing or killed in the accident, an estimated 300 Pakistanis are thought to have been onboard the fishing trawler.

Pakistani authorities said they have registered a total of 10 cases and arrested 15 people, including the prime accused behind the incident, allegedly part of an international human trafficking network, the prime minister’s office said in a statement.

On Monday, the FIA had informed of the arrest of an alleged trafficker, who had reportedly received 2.3 million rupees (over $8,000) to send one of the victims to Europe.

Meanwhile Greek prosecutors in the city of Kalamata sent nine Egyptian nationals – accused of illegally trafficking migrants, causing a shipwreck, homicide by negligence and risking human lives – to prison after grilling them for 13 hours.

The nine suspects, who were part of the 104 people rescued off the boat, have denied being part of a trafficking network and claimed to have paid for travelling in the overcrowded fishing vessel just like other migrants, local media outlets reported.

The rescued migrants include 43 Egyptians, 47 Syrians, 12 Pakistanis and two Palestinians, a Greek coastguard spokesperson told EFE.

According to the testimonies of the rescued people, around 700 people – half of them Pakistanis – were travelling on the boat that sank in the Ioanian Sea, causing one of the largest refugee tragedies in the Mediterranean.

The migrants included a large number of women and children.

Meanwhile search operations continue southwest of the Peloponnes peninsula, where the trawler had sunk on the early hours of Jun. 14.

Authorities recovered another corpse from the area on Tuesday, taking the official death toll to 82.

According to the Greek state broadcaster ERT, the boat left from Egypt, made a stopover in eastern Libya, where the migrants boarded, and then was headed to Italy.


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