French magistrate probes 27 migrant deaths, accuses English Channel salvage workers


A damaged inflatable boat on the coast of Vimeloux, Calais, northern France, November 25, 2021. (Michelle Spingler/AP Photo)

PARIS—A French magistrate on Thursday preliminarily indicted five French salvage workers in an investigation into the sinking of a frivolous migrant vessel in the English Channel in 2021, killing 27 people.

All five were military personnel and were given preliminary charges for failing to help people in danger, according to the judiciary.

Preliminary charges give the judge more time to investigate. A magistrate has previously filed preliminary indictments against 10 others on charges of manslaughter and aiding immigrants into the country illegally. Three judges are in charge of the investigation.

Five military personnel are also currently serving at the French Maritime Surveillance and Rescue Center in the English Channel, according to the Justice Department. they are not in custody.

The center’s duties include coordinating search and rescue operations.

The November 2021 sinking was the worst migrant accident to occur in the dangerous waters separating France and Britain.

Spotlighting smuggling networks that prey on immigrants. It also increased tensions between France and Britain over how to approach the issue.