Greece’s Shipping Minister, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, has resigned following a controversy over his comments about the death of a 36-year-old man who fell into the water after being pushed back by crew members of the ferry he was trying to board.
The incident occurred last Tuesday, September 5, at the Port of Piraeus.
Varvitsiotis announced his resignation on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, on Monday.
Varvitsiotis said last week that the victim, Andonis Kargiotis, had bought a ticket and boarded the Blue Horizon ferry before disembarking for unknown reasons. When he tried to board again, he was stopped by crew members.
Video footage released on social media showed crew members appearing to argue with Kargiotis on the ferry’s stern ramp before falling into the choppy water as the ferry left the dock. Kargiotis drowned as the ferry sailed away.
The incident has sparked outrage and protests in Greece.
Varvitsiotis faced backlash for appearing to sympathise with the crew members on Greek television. He later clarified that his comments had been misinterpreted and apologised.
In his statement announcing his resignation, Varvitsiotis, referring to the incident as “murder”, said he has spoken to the victim’s family and expressed hope that the perpetrators will be brought to justice.
“I have become the target of an attack that is becoming more and more toxic. In no way did I equate the victim with the perpetrators. In no way did I wash away the responsibilities that the ship-owning company has, which it still refuses to assume,” he said.
Latest reports indicate that a Greek prosecutor has filed criminal charges against the captain of the Blue Horizon and three crew members for their involvement in an incident. One crew member faces a charge of possible intentional homicide.
The owner of the ferry, Attica Group, has expressed shock at the tragic incident and is cooperating with authorities in the investigation.
The company’s CEO, Spyros Paschalis, resigned from his position on Thursday.
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