Death of 27 migrants in the English Channel: two other French soldiers charged

Two new soldiers were charged on Thursday, June 1 in France in the case of the death of 27 migrants after the sinking of their boat in the English Channel at the end of 2021, AFP learned from sources close to the investigation and judicial.

A group of migrants trying to cross the English Channel on Wednesday, November 24, 2021. © GONZALO FUENTES/REUTERS

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With these new indictments, a total of seven military personnel are currently charged in connection with this case investigated by the National Jurisdiction for the Fight against Organized Crime (Junalco) of the Paris Judicial Court.

The French authorities are suspected of having been called for help on fifteen occasions and of not having rescued the migrants on the night of the shipwreck.

► READ ALSO: Shipwreck of migrants in the Channel: five French soldiers indicted

According to the source close to the investigation, the two soldiers charged Thursday were aboard the French Navy patrol boat the "Flamant". This building was sailing in "relative proximity" to the boat where the migrants were, said the judicial source.

Ten alleged smugglers indicted

In this case, ten alleged smugglers, mostly Afghans, have also already been indicted. The boat sank in the early morning of November 24, 2021, carrying 27 passengers, mostly Iraqi Kurds, aged between seven and 46.

No one came to their aid. Neither on the French nor on the British side, each having spent the night passing the buck, according to documents of the investigation consulted by AFP and revealed by the daily Le Monde in November 2022.

In a telephone conversation with the Regional Operational Centre for Surveillance and Rescue Gris Nez (Cross), in charge of rescue in the English Channel, of which AFP has become aware, a migrant declared: "Help, please (...), I am in the water". "Yes, but you are in English waters, sir," replied his interlocutor. "No, no, not English waters, French waters, please, can you come quickly," he begged again, before the conversation was cut off.

During previous hearings as witnesses in this investigation at the end of 2021, Cross agents had invoked the lack of resources, which forces "to prioritize". That evening, the center handled "hundreds, if not thousands, of calls," one said.

An investigation is also underway across the Channel. Some 46,000 asylum seekers crossed the Channel in 2022, mostly Afghans, Iranians and Albanians. Some 8,000 were rescued in French waters.

► Also listen: Fatal shipwreck of migrants in the English Channel: one year on, nothing has changed


With AFP)

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  • France
  • Immigration
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