Greek Shipping Minister Resigns over Deadly Ferry Incident Backlash

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In a turn of events that has shocked many, Greece’s shipping minister, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis has stepped down following the incident involving the death of a man who was allegedly forced off a ferry by crew members. This resignation comes in response to his controversial public remarks which seemed to convey his disposition towards the ferry’s crew despite the grievous incident that occurred in the previous week.

The incident leading to the consequent outcry and Varvitsiotis’s resignation took place at the port of Piraeus in Athens. The captain of the ship and three of his crew members are now facing criminal charges linked to the death. This incident has led to widespread condemnation across Greece.

Viral footage, displayed across social media, shows the tragic series of events. The 36-year-old passenger, Antonis Kargiotis, was seen striving to board the Blue Horizon ferry’s loading ramp as the vessel was set for departure from Athens to Crete. As the video demonstrates, crew members attempted to prevent Kargiotis from boarding, which ended with him being pushed apparently, into the sea. The ferry subsequently departed as planned, only to be recalled by authorities. Kargiotis’s body was later retrieved from the waters.

Varvitsiotis, in a statement to Greek TV, emphasized the plight of those families whose members “went to earn a wage, a day’s pay, and are now being accused of murder, are also mourning”. His remarks were met with widespread backlash and criticized heavily including Greek newspaper Ekathimerini, which deemed Varvitsiotis’s statement as “wholly misguided and deeply regrettable”.

In the wake of this backlash, Varvitsiotis expressed on a social media platform, previously known as Twitter, that Kargiotis’s death had “shocked us all”. He suggested that his statements had been incorrectly construed, which led to him being the recipient of a “toxic” attack.

“I did not equate the culprits with the victim”, he mentioned while resisting criticism, “I cannot accept being vilified as an individual,” he added.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed “disgust and horror” at the dreadful accident stating it represented “a mix of irresponsibility and cynicism, scorn and indifference”. He vowed the state would perform its “duty”.

The captain and crew members were presented before a prosecutor following the incident. The Captain now faces severe felony charges for dangerous interference with maritime traffic, while the crew member accused of shoving the passenger overboard could potentially face charges of manslaughter with possible malice. The two remaining crew members have been indicted for their alleged role in this manslaughter.

Blue Star Ferries, belonging to the Attica Group expressed their deep sorrow over the tragic accident and stated their willingness to cooperate with authorities throughout the investigation.

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