Afghan Charged with Child Endangerment After Son Drowned off Greek Coast

Migrants are escorted upon their arrival on an inflatable boat at Lesbos island where local residents will later prevent them from disembarking, on March 1, 2020. - Greece said Sunday it has blocked nearly 10,000 migrants at its border with Turkey, which opened its gates to Europe as tensions mount …
ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images

A 26-year-old Afghan migrant faces up to ten years in prison after being charged with child endangerment following the drowning of his six-year-old son while trying to reach Europe by boat from Turkey.

The charges are related to a shipwreck off the Greek island of Samos in the Aegean Sea on November 8th, 2020. The case could present a major challenge to migrants attempting to make the voyage to Europe to claim asylum if the Afghan is convicted, Dimitris Choulis, the lawyer for the accused, has claimed.

According to a report from the Greek newspaper Proto Thema, the prosecution of the Afghan father is the first of its kind in Europe.

Despite accusations from the Afghan’s lawyer that the prosecution is an attack on the right to asylum, Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi stressed that the case was not to be taken as a sign that the government was cracking down on migration.

The accused Afghan, whose asylum application was rejected twice in Turkey, spoke to the Associated Press this week about the shipwreck, stating: “I didn’t come here for fun. I was compelled.”

“I decided to go for the future of my son, for my future, so we can go somewhere to live, and my son can study,” he added.

While the migrant faces prosecution for his son’s death, he is also preparing to sue the Greek government over the Greek response to the shipwrecked vessel, claiming that the coastguard delayed rescue operations.

The Greek coastguard said that it received the first distress calls from NGO Aegean Boat Report at 12:06 am, according to Deutsche Welle, but the NGO claims that the migrants stated they had received no help over an hour later. The coastguard said that it sent vessels to the area immediately after getting the first distress call.

“If there is the loss of human life, it must be investigated whether some people, through negligence or deliberately, acted outside the limits of the law,” Minister Mitarachi said.

Noting that the migrants’ lives are not in danger in Turkey, he added: “The people who choose to get into boats, which are unseaworthy and are driven by people who have no experience of the sea, obviously put human lives at risk.”

Since the height of the migrant crisis in 2015, there have been several shipwrecks off the coast of Greece. According to the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum, between 2014 and 2020, more than 1.2 million migrants tried to cross the Aegean to get to Greece and more than 2,000 of them died in the process.

In one incident in 2016, an estimated 41 people died in two shipwrecks in the Aegean on the same night, with 17 being children.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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