A humanitarian group has charged senior French and British officials with manslaughter for failing to aid 27 people who drowned trying to cross the English Channel in November.
The indictment, filed on Friday and examined by AFP on Monday, is against Philippe Dutrieux, Prefect of the Coast of Cherbourg, Marc Bonnafous, Director of the French Regional Coast Guard, and Claire Hughes, Director of Her Majesty’s Coast Guard, on charges of “negligence Killing ”and“ not helping people in need ”.
French and British ambulance services were alerted even before the migrants’ bodies were finally found by a fishing trawler, Utopia said 56 association, according to statements from two survivors, people close to the victims and people who managed to cross the same day .
“You did not receive immediate help,” it said in a statement.
Most of the victims of the November 26 boat crash were Iraqi Kurds. Four Afghans, three Ethiopians, a Somali, an Egyptian and an Iranian Kurd also drowned.
Seven women, a 16-year-old and a seven-year-old were among the dead.
The alleged inadequacies of the French and British coastguards are a “regular” occurrence, Utopia 56 said, adding it hoped an investigation would shed light on the circumstances of the deaths.
The association regretted that a French investigation into the accident focused largely on the role of traffickers rather than the authorities.
The British side apparently did not initiate any investigation, it said.
The accident was the deadliest in which a migrant boat was involved in the English Channel and highlighted the growing numbers of desperate people trying to cross the narrow waterway between France and England.
It also created great diplomatic tensions between London and Paris.
Within 48 hours of the accident, French President Emmanuel Macron accused British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of being “not serious” about his approach to stopping the transitions.
France was angry with Johnson’s first reaction, which was seen as the shift of the blame on France.
According to the investigation, the migrants set off in a rubber dinghy from Loon-Plage in northern France at night.
After their boat capsized, only two men, an Iraqi Kurd and a Sudanese national, were safely rescued.
According to the Iraqi survivor, a total of 33 people were on board.
zap-mk / jh / ach