Egypt asks Interpol to arrest owner of sunken ferry

Daily Star Egypt Staff
3 Min Read

CAIRO: Egypt issued an arrest warrant Wednesday which it transferred to Interpol against a businessman who fled to London after one of his ferries sank in the Red Sea, killing more than 1,000 people. Prosecutor Maher Abdel Wahed is seeking the arrest of Mamduh Ismail and his son Amr who left Egypt in the aftermath of the tragedy, one of the worst maritime disasters in recent history, judicial sources told AFP. The Al-Salam Boccaccio 98 sunk in the middle of the Red Sea on February 3 as it was carrying more than 1,400 people from Saudi Arabia to the Egyptian port of Safaga. A preliminary report into the disaster published in April blamed the owners but also strongly implicated the Egyptian government. Both have denied any responsibility. Ismail, a government-appointed member of the upper house and the ruling National Democratic Party, was stripped of his parliamentary immunity in March and his assets were frozen a month later. The fact that Ismail, who is believed to have close ties with the presidential palace, was allowed to flee the country had fueled accusations that the state was involved at the highest level.

The six defendants, including Ismail s son, face charges of negligence and failure to take steps to save the passengers. They heard about the accident but neglected to inform the authorities, the indictment said. Ismail’s company owns a fleet of other Red Sea ferries, several of which have had safety problems. A parliamentary report on the ferry disaster said Ismail committed serious violations of safety regulations. The ferry had forged safety certificates, the life rafts and fire extinguishers were unfit for use and the ship did not have enough winches to lower rafts into the sea, it said. The vessel was originally licensed in Italy to carry 1,187 people but the owners obtained an Egyptian license to carry 2,890 people, in violation of international standards, it said. It was carrying about 1,400 people when it sank and fewer than 400 of them survived. A fire broke out on the car deck shortly after the ferry left Daba but, instead of returning to port, the crew sailed further out to sea and took no steps to evacuate the passengers. The parliamentary report said the drains on the car deck were blocked so the water from the fire hoses accumulated, making the vessel increasingly unstable. Ismail and the other defendants will face trial in a criminal court in the Red Sea province. Agencies

Share This Article
Leave a comment