A 20-year-old Turkish man, who was at the helm of a speedboat that capsized off the Greek Island of Agathonisi leaving three Syrian children dead has been arrested and is facing manslaughter charges for the deaths.
Ak Oskart was detained and brought before a prosecutor on the island of Samos on Saturday, shortly after survivors from the shipwreck were brought there by the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), which had come to their rescue early on Friday morning.
The boat capsized, with 24 people on board (13men, five women and six children) shortly after midnight a short distance away from Agathonisi.
MOAS’s search and rescue vessel, the Topaz Responder was at the site within minutes but three of the children, a two year old girl, her four year old brother, and another boy aged four, had already drowned at that point. They were not wearing lifejackets on but were tethered to their parents.
Greek police made Oskart kneel before the body bags containing the deceased children, just as the father of two of them was brought in to identify them.
A SkyNews team, who was on board the vessel during the rescue and later when Oskart was being transferred in Samos filmed the event in a harrowing reportage.
“Look”, a police officer escorting Oskart can be seen telling the smuggler before moving to the body bags to assist the father. Then, as the distraught father is leaving the boat, the smuggler breaks down in tears.
The man, who claimed he was traveling to Greece for work, was identified immediately by survivors who said he was driving like a “man man”.
He later admitted to authorities that he had never driven a boat before, adding that he was forced to make the short but perilous journey in rough waters by four men in Didim, Turkey, from where the boat left.
He claimed that he was not paid to make the trip. The likeliness is that Oskart was a paid driver who was meant to return back with the unregistered fast boat, which is ideal for ferrying people during the winter months and for that reason in demand.