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Greek judge dismisses case against 9 Egyptians accused of causing a deadly shipwreck

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Greek judge dismisses case against 9 Egyptians accused of causing a deadly shipwreck
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News

Greek judge dismisses case against 9 Egyptians accused of causing a deadly shipwreck

2024-05-21 19:55 Last Updated At:20:01

KALAMATA, Greece (AP) — A Greek judge dismissed a case Tuesday against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction.

The decision by Presiding Judge Eftichia Kontaratou came shortly after the trial opened in the southern Greek city of Kalamata, and was greeted with cheers and applause from supporters of the defendants at the courthouse.

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Protesters react after a court's decision as the banner reads "Justice shouldn't sink. Open borders for refugees" in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

KALAMATA, Greece (AP) — A Greek judge dismissed a case Tuesday against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction.

Police clash with protesters outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police clash with protesters outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police clash with protesters outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police clash with protesters outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Dalia Elghaty, the aunt of a 27 year-old Egyptian, who he is accused of causing a shipwreck, holds photos of him outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men have gone on trial in southern Greece, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Dalia Elghaty, the aunt of a 27 year-old Egyptian, who he is accused of causing a shipwreck, holds photos of him outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men have gone on trial in southern Greece, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptians, who was on trial for migrant smuggling, waves to the media persons as he leaves the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptians, who was on trial for migrant smuggling, waves to the media persons as he leaves the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Four of nine Egyptians, who were on trial for migrant smuggling, react as they leave from the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Four of nine Egyptians, who were on trial for migrant smuggling, react as they leave from the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptians, who was on trial for migrant smuggling, waves to the media persons as he leaves the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptians, who was on trial for migrant smuggling, waves to the media persons as he leaves the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptians, who were on trial for migrant smuggling, wave to the media persons as they leave from the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptians, who were on trial for migrant smuggling, wave to the media persons as they leave from the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptians, who were on trial for migrant smuggling, wave to the media persons as they leave the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptians, who were on trial for migrant smuggling, wave to the media persons as they leave the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptians, who was on trial for migrant smuggling, waves to the media persons as he leaves the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptians, who was on trial for migrant smuggling, waves to the media persons as he leaves the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

A protester bleeds after clashes with police outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

A protester bleeds after clashes with police outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police guard outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police guard outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

A protester bleeds after clashes with police outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

A protester bleeds after clashes with police outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police clash with protesters outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police clash with protesters outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police clash with protesters outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police clash with protesters outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants arrive at a courthouse for the start of their trial in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants arrive at a courthouse for the start of their trial in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants arrive at a courthouse for the start of their trial in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants arrive at a courthouse for the start of their trial in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants arrive at a courthouse for the start of their trial in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants arrive at a courthouse for the start of their trial in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants waves as he is led by police to a courthouse in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants waves as he is led by police to a courthouse in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants waves as he is led by police to a courthouse in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants waves as he is led by police to a courthouse in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

More than 500 people are believed to have gone down with the Adriana, which sank in one of the deepest parts of the Mediterranean while traveling from Libya to Italy. Only 104 people were rescued from the overcrowded fishing trawler — all men, the vast majority from Syria, Pakistan and Egypt — and 82 bodies were recovered.

Prosecutors accused the defendants, most in their 20s, of being part of the trawler's crew — something the defense denied — and therefore being responsible for the mistreatment of passengers and the massively overcrowded conditions which authorities argued led to the boat capsizing and sinking on June 14 2023. The nine men faced up to life in prison had they been convicted of the multiple criminal charges against them, including people smuggling and causing a deadly shipwreck.

The judge's ruling followed a recommendation by public prosecutor Ekaterini Tsironi for the case to be dismissed because the trawler sank outside Greek territorial waters.

“The shipwreck clearly occurred in international waters and … the jurisdiction of the Greek courts cannot be established," she said. "I propose that they be declared innocent.”

The case had faced criticism from international human rights groups, who argued the defendants' right to a fair trial was compromised because they faced judgment while a separate Naval Court investigation into the sinking and the Greek coast guard's actions is still under way.

The trawler was sailing in international waters but within Greece's search and rescue area of operations when it capsized and sank. A coast guard patrol boat and passing merchant ships were near the vessel for hours but did not manage to prevent the massive loss of life.

Several survivors have said the capsizing happened after the Greek coast guard attempted to tow the ship, an accusation Greek authorities deny. The exact circumstances of the sinking remain unclear.

The indictments against the nine were based on testimonies from another nine survivors. Defense lawyers argued that testimony had been coerced, and that their clients had been paying passengers who were scapegoated by authorities eager to put the blame for the sinking on overcrowded conditions.

Dimitris Choulis, one of the lawyers in the defense team, said attention should now turn to how the Adriana sank.

“The court today had to be very brave to issue this decision, and to say that these people are not the smugglers,” Choulis said. “So now the narrative of the bad smugglers (does not) exist any more, so we need to find who caused the shipwreck.”

Choulis blamed the tragedy on the Greek coast guard and Europe's migration policies, and said it was essential to “make sure that nothing like that would happen again.”

His comments were echoed by Judith Sunderland, an associate director for Europe and Central Asia at Human Rights Watch.

“Now that the survivors’ ordeal is over, we need to see the Naval Court conclude its investigation to determine the responsibilities of the Greek Coast Guard for the tremendous loss of life in the Pylos shipwreck,” she said. Pylos is the Greek town that was closest to where the trawler sank, and the shipwreck has become known by that name.

The nine, who have been in pre-trial detention since the shipwreck, were expected to be released from jail on Wednesday after processing procedures were complete.

The Kalamata court “delivered justice today,” said another defense lawyer, Spyros Pantazis. “This case needed a lot of work and a lot of effort. After such a long time, the whole defense team is really happy.”

Dalia Abdel-Magid, the aunt defendant Mohammed Emad Abdel-Magid, reacted emotionally to the news that her nephew had been acquitted.

“I’m so happy that I just want to hug him and take him with me," she said. "I hope that everything gets better for him now.”

Earlier, a small group of protesters clashed with riot police outside the courthouse. There were no reports of serious injuries but two people were detained. Officers from the special police forces maintained order in the courtroom.

“Justice prevailed. These people stayed in jail for a year even though they were innocent, and this must not happen again," said Stelios Kouloglou, a Greek member of the European Parliament. “There are 2,000 innocent people in Greek jails, accused of or convicted of smuggling. The vast majority are innocent.”

As the trial started, Kontaratou questioned all nine defendants through an interpreter. The accused said their intention had been to travel to Italy, not Greece, and several declared their innocence.

She acknowledged that on the ship there “were no Greeks on board, it was not under a Greek flag and all the documents refer to the (vessel being) 47 nautical miles away.”

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres last year described the shipwreck as “horrific."

The sinking renewed pressure on European governments to protect the lives of migrants and asylum seekers trying to reach the continent, as the number of people traveling illegally across the Mediterranean continues to rise every year.

The European border protection agency Frontex says illegal border detections at EU frontiers increased for three consecutive years through 2023, reaching the highest level since the 2015-2016 migration crisis, driven largely by arrivals by sea.

Follow all AP stories on global migration at https://apnews.com/hub/migration,

Protesters react after a court's decision as the banner reads "Justice shouldn't sink. Open borders for refugees" in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Protesters react after a court's decision as the banner reads "Justice shouldn't sink. Open borders for refugees" in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police clash with protesters outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police clash with protesters outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police clash with protesters outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police clash with protesters outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Dalia Elghaty, the aunt of a 27 year-old Egyptian, who he is accused of causing a shipwreck, holds photos of him outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men have gone on trial in southern Greece, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Dalia Elghaty, the aunt of a 27 year-old Egyptian, who he is accused of causing a shipwreck, holds photos of him outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men have gone on trial in southern Greece, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptians, who was on trial for migrant smuggling, waves to the media persons as he leaves the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptians, who was on trial for migrant smuggling, waves to the media persons as he leaves the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Four of nine Egyptians, who were on trial for migrant smuggling, react as they leave from the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Four of nine Egyptians, who were on trial for migrant smuggling, react as they leave from the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptians, who was on trial for migrant smuggling, waves to the media persons as he leaves the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptians, who was on trial for migrant smuggling, waves to the media persons as he leaves the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptians, who were on trial for migrant smuggling, wave to the media persons as they leave from the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptians, who were on trial for migrant smuggling, wave to the media persons as they leave from the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptians, who were on trial for migrant smuggling, wave to the media persons as they leave the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptians, who were on trial for migrant smuggling, wave to the media persons as they leave the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptians, who was on trial for migrant smuggling, waves to the media persons as he leaves the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptians, who was on trial for migrant smuggling, waves to the media persons as he leaves the court in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. A Greek judge dismissed charges against nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants last year and sent shockwaves through the European Union's border protection and asylum operations, after a prosecutor told the court Greece lacked jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

A protester bleeds after clashes with police outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

A protester bleeds after clashes with police outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police guard outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police guard outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

A protester bleeds after clashes with police outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

A protester bleeds after clashes with police outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police clash with protesters outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police clash with protesters outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police clash with protesters outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Police clash with protesters outside a court house in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Nine Egyptian men go on trial in southern Greece on Tuesday, accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants and sent shockwaves through the European Union’s border protection and asylum operations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants arrive at a courthouse for the start of their trial in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants arrive at a courthouse for the start of their trial in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants arrive at a courthouse for the start of their trial in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants arrive at a courthouse for the start of their trial in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants arrive at a courthouse for the start of their trial in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Two of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants arrive at a courthouse for the start of their trial in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants waves as he is led by police to a courthouse in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck that killed hundreds of migrants waves as he is led by police to a courthouse in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants waves as he is led by police to a courthouse in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

One of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a shipwreck last year that killed hundreds of migrants waves as he is led by police to a courthouse in Kalamata, southwestern Greece, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted on multiple criminal charges. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

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Italy advances at Euro 2024 after Zaccagni equalizer in injury time against Croatia

2024-06-25 06:29 Last Updated At:06:31

LEIPZIG, Germany (AP) — Italy substitute Mattia Zaccagni scored in the last minute of stoppage time for Italy to advance to the knockout stage of the European Championship after drawing Croatia 1-1 on Monday.

Luka Modric’s second-half strike looked like sending Croatia through as the Group B runner-up, but Zaccagni swept a brilliant shot inside the far post in the eighth minute of added time to cap a furious finale from the defending champions.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic was unhappy so much time was added after a battling performance from his side.

“You can’t have eight minutes of added time after that game, it’s nonsense,” Dalic said. “There weren’t so many breaks in play, or so many fouls to justify that. I don’t want to cause a fuss but I think Croatia needs to be acknowledged and respected. We played for almost three hours.”

Italy needed a point to progress, while Croatia realistically needed a win to stay in the tournament. The Croatians have two points from their three games and were at the mercy of other results to see if it’s enough to scrape through as one of the best third-place finishers.

Dalic made no mention of waiting. He already believes his side is out.

Italy will face Switzerland in the round of 16 on Saturday in Berlin's Olympiastadion, where the final is on July 14.

“We were a bit soft at times in the game, we didn’t produce our best football,” Italy coach Luciano Spalletti said. “When you can afford to draw the game, that’s how it goes, you know a draw is enough, you are a bit more timid.”

But Spalletti bristled at a question asking if he was concerned about his team trailing going into stoppage time.

“Worries and concerns are part and parcel of this job,” the Italy coach said. “We did what we needed to do.”

Modric scored 33 seconds after having a penalty saved by Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to become the oldest goal-scorer ever at the tournament.

Modric, at 38 years, 289 days on Monday, broke the record held by Ivica Vastic, who was 38 years, 257 days, when he scored for Austria against Poland at Euro 2008.

After Modric’s penalty miss, Croatia immediately attacked again and Donnarumma had to save a shot by Ante Budimir. Modric pounced on the rebound in the 55th minute.

The goal sent showers of beer into the sky as ecstatic Croatian fans jettisoned the cups they were holding in the celebrations.

Alessandro Bastoni headed just over in response as the Italians suddenly found themselves in need of a goal. Defeat could have seen the defending champion knocked out depending on results in other games.

Modric turned his skills to defense until he went off to standing ovations in the 80th.

“He wasn't tired,” said Dalic, who added he wanted to give his star a rest.

But Italy maintained its pressure and it finally paid off at the last possible moment with Zaccagni’s curling shot.

AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024

Croatia's Ante Budimir, left, vies for the ball with Italy's Matteo Darmian during a Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Croatia's Ante Budimir, left, vies for the ball with Italy's Matteo Darmian during a Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Croatia's Luka Modric celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during a Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Croatia's Luka Modric celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during a Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Croatia's Luka Modric scores his side's opening goal during a Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Croatia's Luka Modric scores his side's opening goal during a Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Croatia's Luka Modric reacts at the end of Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Croatia's Luka Modric reacts at the end of Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Italy's Mattia Zaccagni, right, celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal of Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Italy's Mattia Zaccagni, right, celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal of Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Italy's Mattia Zaccagni, top left, celebrates after he scored his side's opening goal during the Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Italy's Mattia Zaccagni, top left, celebrates after he scored his side's opening goal during the Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Italy's Mattia Zaccagni scores his side's opening goal during a Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Italy's Mattia Zaccagni scores his side's opening goal during a Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Italy's Mattia Zaccagni celebrates after scoring during a Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Italy's Mattia Zaccagni celebrates after scoring during a Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Italian players celebrate after teammate Mattia Zaccagni scored during a Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Italian players celebrate after teammate Mattia Zaccagni scored during a Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

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