The migrants aged between seven and 46 – 16 Kurds from Iraq, one Kurd from Iran, four Afghans, three Ethiopians, one Somali, one Egyptian and one Vietnamese – died on November 24 when their rubber boat sank off the coast. from Calais, as they attempted to reach Great Britain.
They had embarked on their crossing in the middle of the night from Loon-Plage, near Grande-Synthe (North). Only two passengers, an Iraqi Kurd and a Sudanese, had been rescued.
An investigation was opened in mid-December, entrusted to Parisian investigating judges.
Between Sunday and Monday, 15 people – 13 men and two women – were arrested. According to a source familiar with the matter, these people were mostly of Afghan nationality.
If three men and two women were released without prosecution at this stage, ten men were presented to the investigating magistrates and then indicted.
A first was imprisoned on Wednesday.
Nine others, aged 21 to 41, were indicted on Thursday, in particular for “manslaughter, involuntary injuries, endangering the lives of others, criminal association and assistance with entry, traffic and illegal stay,” the judicial source told AFP on Friday.
“Five of them have been remanded in custody and four under judicial supervision,” the source continued.
They are suspected, according to another source familiar with the matter, of being to varying degrees involved as drivers, smugglers or lodgers, in particular in an Afghan illegal immigration network in connection with the sinking.
The association for helping exiles Utopia 56 filed a complaint in December for “manslaughter” and “failure to provide assistance” in order to become a civil party in this case.
She will know in November if her civil action is finally validated on appeal or not.
– Crossing record –
Utopia 56 was aimed in particular at the maritime prefect Philippe Dutrieux, the director of the Regional Operational Center for Surveillance and Rescue (Cross) Gris-Nez Marc Bonnafous, and the director of the English coast guard Claire Hughes.
While rejoicing with AFP at the “significant progress” of the investigation in the network of smugglers, the association’s lawyer, Me Emmanuel Daoud, underlines that the “dysfunction aspect does not seem to be progressing as well quickly while the questions of whether there was negligence or not, lack of preparation or not arise”.
The association’s complaint was based in particular on the testimony of the Iraqi Kurdish survivor, according to which 33 people were on board.
He had reported to the Iraqi Kurdish channel Rudaw that the migrants had called French and British rescue services when their boat had started to sink. According to him, the help had not been triggered, French and English returning the responsibility for the intervention.
At the beginning of December, the maritime prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea ruled out that a call from migrants could not have been processed.
This shipwreck, the deadliest since migrants tried to cross the Channel, had caused a stir in Europe and reignited tensions between France and the United Kingdom.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, attempts to illegally cross the Channel by migrants wanting to reach the British coast exploded in the first half of 2022, after an already record year 2021.
In 2021, these attempted crossings, generally by inflatable boat, departing from the northern coast between Calais and Dunkirk had reached a “record”, with 52,000 people having attempted it and 28,000 migrants having succeeded, according to data from the ministry communicated. in January.
According to the maritime prefecture, a total of 38 migrants died in 2021 while trying to reach England by sea from the northern coast of France.