The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Wednesday acquired DNA samples from the relatives of the 126 missing victims of the recent boat disaster near Greece.
Families of 52 victims in the Gujarat Circle and 46 in the Gujranwala Circle provided samples. Additionally, the agency gathered blood samples from relatives of 28 missing persons from Kotli in Azad Kashmir.
In related news, the FIA’s Anti-Human Trafficking Circle in Gujranwala detained two additional suspects in connection with the tragedy. The arrested individuals, identified as Mohsin Javed and Sharafat Ali from Gujranwala, are alleged to have been involved in the trafficking of people on the ill-fated boat.
The suspects are reported to have extracted a sum of Rs2.5 million to facilitate the boat victim, Umair Yahya’s journey to Europe. A case has been lodged against the alleged traffickers, who were apprehended in Gujranwala, and investigations are underway.
The arrests come in relation to a Libya boat wreck that occurred earlier this year, claiming the lives of seven Pakistanis.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif convened a high-level meeting in Islamabad to deliberate on the issue of human smuggling and the recent boat capsizing near Greece.
The Prime Minister received a detailed briefing on the shipwreck incident and ordered authorities to expedite their efforts in bringing those responsible to justice.
Attendees of the meeting included Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi, the Director-General of the FIA, the Chief Secretary of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and other high-ranking officials.
During the meeting, it was disclosed that the Greek Coast Guard had identified the ill-fated vessel on June 12, which was estimated to carry around 700 passengers. The majority of these individuals were from Syria, Libya, and Pakistan, with the boat owned by an Egyptian man.
It was reported that 104 passengers had been rescued alive, with 15 hailing from Pakistan. Additionally, authorities have arrested 15 people in the aftermath of the incident, including the prime suspect.
Prime Minister Sharif was informed about the existence of an organised network spanning multiple countries involved in human trafficking.
Expressing his indignation, the PM questioned why preventive actions were not taken sooner against human trafficking operations. He urged district administrations to exercise more vigilance regarding such illicit activities.
Sharif also ordered a swift and thorough investigation into the incident, instructing Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah to oversee the process and develop proposals for necessary legislation to penalize the culprits.
Directing the FIA to adopt effective preventive measures, the Prime Minister also asked the Commissioner of Gujranwala to swiftly identify and prosecute illegal agents within the district.
Prior to this, Mumtaz Arain, the main accused in the human trafficking operation leading to the boat tragedy, was arrested on the orders of Punjab Inspector General Dr Usman Anwar.
As the investigation unfolds, it’s feared that the death toll could increase substantially. Eyewitness accounts suggest that between 400 and 750 people may have been aboard the capsized fishing boat. Greek authorities have reported that 104 survivors and 78 bodies were recovered immediately after the disaster, with hopes diminishing of finding any additional survivors.