A defendant is transferred at a police van as he leaves a court house in Piraeus, near Athens, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023. A Greek prosecutor has brought criminal charges against an island ferry captain and three of his crew over the death of a tardy passenger who was pushed by a crew member into the sea as he tried to board the departing vessel. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

Greece’s shipping minister resigns a week after a passenger drowns

Greece’s shipping minister resigned Monday over the death of a man who was pushed off a ferry ramp by a crew member after arriving late.

A Greek prosecutor brought criminal charges against the captain of the island ferry and three crew members over the encounter that resulted in the Sept. 5 drowning of Andonis Kargiotis, 36. One crew member faces a charge of homicide with possible intent.

Amateur video posted online showed the passenger running onto the Blue Horizon ferry’s loading ramp as the ship had cast off its moorings and was about to leave. He tried to push past two crew members and then was pushed off the ramp when he tried again.

“No one can imagine that Greek sailors, violating the age-old rules for the protection of human life at sea, pushed and abandoned an unfortunate young man,” Minister of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy Miltiadis Varvitsiotis wrote in an online post after submitting his resignation.

Political opponents had accused Varvitsiotis, 54, of initially downplaying the ferry incident. He became maritime minister after Greece’s conservative government won a landslide reelection victory in June.

Christos Stylianides, a former Greek Cabinet member in charge of disaster response, was named as his replacement Monday.

Despite its convincing election victory three months ago, the Greek government has found itself on the defensive over its handling of major wildfires and ongoing massive floods this summer.