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Greek court drops some charges against rescue workers

Sarah Mardini and Seán Binder

Trial of 24 rescue workers in Lesvos began on Tuesday. Court of Appeal of Mytilene drops some charges.

Where: Lesvos

The Facts

Four years after they were arrested, the trial of 24 humanitarian workers indicted for rescuing migrants at sea began on Tuesday in Lesvos, Greece.
On Friday, the Court of Appeal of Mytilene accepted the prosecutor’s recommendation to drop all charges, including espionage, against 23 defendants. Foreign defendants’ charges were dropped due to a procedural shortcoming: the lack of translation of the official indictment.
Charges for forgery against one defendant and support for criminal organization against another remain. All 24 defendants still face felony charges. Defendant Seán Binder says he and his co-defendants want this to go to trial, saying that seems unlikely to happen anytime soon.
MEP Kostas Arvanitis (Syriza, Greece) says, “The criminalization of rescue is a crime.” He says dubbing asylum seekers and their rescuers’ criminals is against “the basic principles of democracy and the Rule of Law.”
The United Nations, Amnesty International, and other humanitarian organizations have asked Greek authorities to drop all charges.

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