Greek shipping minister resigns following comments over ferry death

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's shipping minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis has resigned following a controversy over his comments about the death last Tuesday of a 36-year-old man who had fallen into the sea after being pushed back by crew members of a ship he was trying to board.

Varvitsiotis announced his resignation on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, on Monday.

Video footage released on social media after the incident showed crew members appearing to argue with the man on the stern ramp just as the ferry was leaving the port of Piraeus for the island of Crete.

Varvitsiotis said last week that the man, who had bought a ticket, had boarded the ship before disembarking for unknown reasons and then tried to board again, which was when he was pushed back and fell into the sea just as the ship departed.

The man's death sparked outrage and protests in Greece and Varvitsiotis faced a backlash for appearing to sympathize with the crew members on Greek television. Varvitsiotis, who later apologised, said his comments had been misinterpreted.

"I have become the target of an attack that is becoming more and more toxic," he posted as he announced his resignation. "In no way did I equate the victim with the perpetrators. In no way did I wash away the responsibilities that the ship-owning company has, which it still refuses to assume."

(Reporting by Karolina Tagaris; Editing by David Holmes)