Their mission will be to understand the causes, still unclear, of the tragedy which claimed the lives of twenty-seven migrants on Wednesday, November 24 in the English Channel. Investigating judges from the national court responsible for the fight against organized crime, based in Paris, were entrusted with the investigation into the sinking on Friday (December 17th), the Paris prosecutor’s office reported. A judicial investigation was opened in particular for the heads of“Involuntary homicides, unintentional injuries, endangering others, assistance with the entry and stay of a foreigner in France in an organized group”, said the prosecution.
Earlier this week, the bodies found after the sinking had been identified. They are sixteen Kurds from Iraq, one Kurd from Iran, four Afghans, three Ethiopians, one Somali, one Egyptian and one Vietnamese. They were 22 to 46 year old women, 19 to 46 year old men, a 16 year old teenager and a 7 year old child. Only two men, an Iraqi Kurd and a Sudanese according to the Interior Ministry, were able to be rescued.
Survivors say they called for help
According to the investigation, the migrants would have left aboard an inflatable boat “At the end of the night” from Loon-Plage, near Grande-Synthe (North), where many exiles are camping on the coast. Questions arise about the calls made by the migrants to the French and English authorities when their makeshift boat began to sink.
In an interview with the Iraqi Kurdish channel Rudaw, the Iraqi Kurdish survivor said that as the boat began to deflate passengers had unsuccessfully called the British and French authorities for help. The Manche maritime prefecture had ruled out that the appeal of migrants in difficulty had not been dealt with, but an investigation by the World reports that the calls referred to by migrants do appear in the detailed telephone bills extracted by the police.
Multiplication of crossing attempts
According to the maritime prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea, this shipwreck is the “Worst accident” since the significant increase, in 2018, of migratory crossings due to the increasing lockdown of the port of Calais and Eurotunnel, used until then by migrants trying to reach England.
Attempts to migrate across the Channel on board small boats have doubled in the past three months, warned, on November 19, the maritime prefect of the Channel and the North Sea, Philippe Dutrieux. As of November 20, 31,500 migrants had left the coast since the start of the year and 7,800 migrants had been rescued, he said. According to London, 22,000 migrants made the crossing over the first ten months of the year. The British agency Press Association estimated the figure at more than 25,700, three times more than in the whole of 2020.
Mr. Dutrieux explained this phenomenon in particular by “The cynicism of the organizations that are behind these passages, which throw migrants into the water because it is a business that pays well”. Four arrests had been announced by the French authorities in the wake of the sinking for their alleged involvement in the incident.
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After the shipwreck that caused the death of twenty-seven migrants in the Channel, an investigation entrusted to judges