Dead Calm: Killing in the Med?

Editor; Alex Fry
Airing Mon 17th June @ 9pm on BBC 2

Hiding in the crystal blue waters of the Aegean Sea lies a dark secret. If true, the Greek islands have become much more than a sun-drenched paradise for those living the holiday dream. There are dark rumours of EU-funded boats carrying masked men, people being rounded up on land, forced onto coast guard boats and then abandoned in flimsy rubber dinghies at sea. There are multiple cases of people subsequently losing their lives. Are these masked men responsible?

Against this troubling background, in June 2023, an overloaded trawler flips in front of a Greek coast guard patrol boat. More than 600 men, women and children die in the water. A billionaire’s super yacht takes survivors to shore. The accounts of these survivors suggest that coast guard is at fault – something the Greek authorities deny.

On editing the film Alex commented: ‘I thought I understood the inherent risks for those fleeing conflict or extreme poverty, but in fact there is another world of pain and suffering waiting for them at the gates of fortress Europe, a place which likes to define itself by its humanitarian values. ‘

The Greek government has long been accused of forced returns – pushing people back towards Turkey, where they have crossed from, which is illegal under international law. But this is the first time the BBC has calculated the number of incidents which allege that fatalities occurred as a result of the Greek coastguard’s actions.

Published: 17 June 2024