Ahmed Ezzat, 26, from the Nile Delta, was among them. He is accused of smuggling people and causing the shipwreck. In an interview, his brother, Islam Ezzat, said that Ahmed disappeared from their village in mid-May and re-emerged in Libya weeks later. He said a smuggler had sent someone to the family home to collect 140,000 Egyptian pounds, or $4,500, the standard fee for a spot on the Adriana.
Islam said he did not believe Ahmed had been involved in the smuggling because he had paid the fee. He said the family was cooperating with the Egyptian authorities. Ahmed, like the others who have been charged, has pleaded not guilty.
‘They Will Rescue You’
By Day 4, according to testimonies and interviews, six people in the hold of the ship, including at least one child, had died.
The next day, June 13, as the Adriana lurched toward Italy between engine breakdowns, migrants on deck persuaded the captain to send a distress call to the Italian authorities.
The Adriana was in international waters then, and the captain was focused on getting to Italy. Experts who study this migratory route say that captains are typically paid on arrival. That is supported by some survivors who said their fees were held by middlemen, to be paid once they had arrived safely in Italy.
The captain, some survivors recalled, said the Italian authorities would rescue the ship and take people to shore.
Just before 1 p.m., a glimmer of hope appeared in the sky. A plane.
Frontex, the European Union border agency, had been alerted by the Italian authorities that the Adriana was in trouble and rushed to its coordinates. There was no doubt the ship was perilously overloaded, E.U. officials said, and unlikely to make it to any port without help.