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Migrant rescue volunteers on trial in Greece

Michiren – A group of 24 aid workers and volunteers who participated in a migrant rescue operation on the eastern Greek island went on trial on Tuesday in a smuggling-related case that has been widely criticized by human rights groups.

The defendants have denied all charges, saying they only helped rescue people whose lives were in danger. has been postponed until Friday.

Aid workers include Sara Maldini, a prominent Syrian human rights activist. Sara Maldini is a refugee and competitive swimmer. Her sister Yusra Maldini was part of the refugee swimming team at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and she at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The story of the sisters was made up. to Netflix movies.

Maldini and fellow volunteer Sean Binder, who did not attend Tuesday’s hearing, were sentenced to three months in prison on the island of Lesbos after being arrested in 2018 for misdemeanor crimes, including espionage, counterfeiting and illegal use of radio frequencies. I have spent more than a month.

The case was originally scheduled to proceed in 2021, but has been postponed due to procedural issues. The two are also under investigation for felony charges, but no such charges have yet been filed.

“It’s human rights that’s on trial today. That’s the fundamental issue,” Binder said outside the courtroom before Tuesday’s hearing.

“We are desperate to go to court because what we did was legal,” Binder said. Until then, not only me, but everyone doing search and rescue has a shadow of suspicion.”

Human rights group Amnesty International described the case against aid workers as a “farce” and called on Greek authorities to drop the charges.

“Sarah and Sean did what we should have been in their shoes. Helping people in danger of drowning on one of the most dangerous sea routes in Europe and helping them on the coastline is not a crime. No,” Amnesty International’s European Regional Director Nils Muizniks said in a statement ahead of Tuesday’s hearing.

“This trial highlights how the Greek authorities will go to extreme lengths to deter humanitarian aid and discourage migrants and refugees from seeking safety on their own shores. “It is a farce that this trial is taking place.”

At the height of the refugee crisis in 2015, when nearly a million migrants and refugees crossed the coast from nearby Turkey, Greece erected fences along much of its border with Turkey and patrolled nearby seas. and cracked down on immigration. island.

Greek officials say they have a strict but fair immigration policy. They also deny conducting illegal summary deportations by not allowing asylum applications for those arriving on Greek territory, despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of the global transition. https://apnews.com/hub/migration

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/world/2023/01/10/volunteer-migrant-rescuers-set-to-face-trial-in-greece/ Migrant rescue volunteers on trial in Greece

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