Iranian man in French court over Channel boat tragedy

By Michael Drummond, PA South East Correspondent
·1-min read

An Iranian man has appeared before a judge in France following the sinking of a migrant boat that claimed the lives of at least four people, a prosecutor has said.

The 37-year-old is believed to have been piloting the boat when it sank off the coast of Dunkirk on Tuesday.

Four members of the same family, including two young children, died and a baby and two adults are believed to be missing.

The man was brought before an investigative judge on Friday with a view to being charged with manslaughter, Dunkirk public prosecutor Sebastien Pieve said.

A French rescue helicopter lands close to a rescue vessel in Dunkirk, northern France, during the recovery operation
A French rescue helicopter lands close to a rescue vessel in Dunkirk, northern France, during the search operation (AP)

The PA news agency understands the boat had set off for the UK with as many as 28 people on board, despite being designed to carry just six or seven.

Investigations are continuing.

Those known to have died in the tragedy are Rasoul Iran-Nejad and his wife Shiva Mohammad Panahi, both 35, along with their children Anita, nine, and Armin, six.

Their son Artin, just 15 months old, was also on board and has not been found.

None on board had been issued with life jackets, it is believed.

Mr Iran-Nejad’s cousin paid tribute to the family on Thursday, saying their relatives are “devastated”.

He also called on the French Government to help with the cost of repatriating their bodies, believed to be more than £90,000.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the deaths were “an ultimate tragedy” and one that “could have been avoided”.