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Saturday July 13, 2024

Suspect allegedly involved in Greek boat tragedy arrested in Karachi

Sajid Mehmood allegedly involved in smuggling people to Europe, says FIA

By Kashif Mushtaq
June 17, 2023
This file photo taken on May 24, 2016 shows African refugees waiting on a rubber boat to be rescued during an operation at sea, on May 24, 2016. — AFP
This file photo taken on May 24, 2016 shows African refugees waiting on a rubber boat to be rescued during an operation at sea, on May 24, 2016. — AFP

KARACHI: Sajid Mehmood, the prime suspect of the Greek boat tragedy, was arrested at Karachi airport while he was trying to flee to Azerbaijan, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) said on Saturday

The FIA said the suspect was allegedly involved in smuggling people to Europe via Greece and Libya.

The suspect was offloaded from plane after his name appeared on the FIA’s stop-list, the officials added.

The FIA said suspect Mehmood is resident of Punjab’s Mandi Bahauddin district and accused of smuggling youth to Europe via Greece and Libya.

The suspect is running a human smuggling network from Greece and previously smuggled several people to Libya.

The federal agency said the same suspect was also allegedly involved in the boat incident that capsized in Libya in March.

The officials said the suspect will be handed over to FIA Gujarat bureau and a case has been registered against him in the same district.

Greek police on Thursday arrested nine Egyptians on suspicion of people smuggling — one of them the captain of the boat carrying the migrants.

They were detained at the port of Kalamata, where the survivors are being cared for, said Greek news agency ANA.

The survivors, mainly from Syria, Egypt and Pakistan, were being housed in a Kalamata warehouse.

Greece, Italy and Spain are among the main landing points for tens of thousands of people who seek to reach Europe as they flee conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Earlier today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that 12 Pakistanis are among the survivors of the capsized overloaded fishing boat which sank off Peloponnese in southern Greece.

The boat sank Wednesday, resulting in the death of at least 78 people, with some 104 found alive till Friday. Reports suggest that 400 to 750 people were onboard the ill-fated boat.

In a statement, Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said the authorities, at this stage, are unable to verify the number and identity of Pakistani nationals among the deceased.

She said the Pakistan Mission in Greece is in contact with the local authorities to identify and recover Pakistani nationals among the deceased and provide relief to the survivors.


— With additional input from AFP