Migrant father charged with son’s death on journey to Greece

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On a pine-covered hill above the sparkling Aegean Sea lies a boy’s grave. His first boat ride was his last — the sea claimed him before his sixth birthday.

“He drowned in a shipwreck,” his gravestone reads. “It wasn’t the sea, it wasn’t the wind, it is the policies and fear.”

Those migration policies are being called into question in the case of the Afghan boy’s 25-year-old father, who is charged with child endangerment for taking his son on the journey from Turkey to Greece and faces up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

This is believed to be the first time in the European Union that a parent faces prosecution for their child’s shipwreck death in the pursuit of a better life in Europe.

A migrant walks in front of chemical toilets outside the perimeter of the overcrowded refugee camp at the port of Vathy on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, Greece, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021.(AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

The father, divorced and raising his son alone, said he decided to leave Turkey after his asylum application there was rejected twice, fearing deportation to Afghanistan.

“I didn’t come here for fun. I was compelled,” he said. “I decided to go for the future of my son, for my future, so we can go somewhere to live, and my son can study.”

Now, he says, he often thinks of killing himself.

“Without him I don’t know how to live,” he cried. “He is the only one I had in my life. All my hopes were him.”

An Afghan father walks, at the port of Vathy on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, Greece, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said the case doesn’t herald any change in Greece’s migration policy.

“If there is the loss of human life, it must be investigated whether some people, through negligence or deliberately, acted outside the limits of the law,” Mitarachi said, adding this was on a case-by-case basis.

He noted asylum-seekers’ lives aren’t in danger in Turkey.

“The people who choose to get into boats, which are unseaworthy and are driven by people who have no experience of the sea, obviously put human lives at risk,” he said.

Sourced By: AP News

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