The leadership of the coast guard attributed the incident at Farmakonisi that claimed the lives of 16 lives to a long list of tragic coincidences, speaking in front of a parliamentary committee.
At the end of his testimony coast guard chief Dimitris Bandias asked forgiveness in a broken voice stressing that his men did all that was humanly possible to help the hapless immigrants.
Earlier,merchant marine minister, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis and coast guard leaders described the events of the tragic night in detail, but remained unclear on crucial details like the use of violence by the coast guard alleged by those rescued.
The minister and the leadership of the coast guard insisted that there was no order to violently repatriate immigrants to the coast from whence they came, citing a host of incidents to show that their main was to save lives.
Operations Center chief Nikos Patrinos went on at lengths detailing the whole operation from the first call to the time the coast guard vessel docked on Farmakonisi carrying the survivors. He repeated that the weather was bad with winds of 6-7 on the Beaufort scale, waves, and total darkness. According to the OC chief scant information as to the boat and its occupants complicated issues that went awry once the tow rope broke, leading according to him to the capsizing of the boat and the subsequent loss of so many lives.
The testimonies, did, however, spark off a row between SYRIZA and New Democracy mps, with ND deputy Thodoris Dritsas accusing SYRIZA deputy of besmirching the coast guard and attributing dictatorial practices to the government. Mr Varvitsiotis' testimony only fueled the fire and caused Mr Dritsas to accuse the minister of taking out his fury on anyone handy.
Mr Drtsas had earlier accused Mr Varvitsiotis of a suspicious stance and machinations reminiscent of the junta, while also expressing perplexity at why four of those rescued were thanking the coast guard instead of lamenting the loss of their loved ones.