SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 9 February 2023, Thursday |

Greek court rejects charges against aid workers

A defense attorney and local media said that a Greek court on Friday rejected espionage accusations against a group of humanitarian workers who were on trial in Greece and ordered a prosecutor to refile the case, citing weaknesses in the legal system.

The volunteers, some of whom were foreigners, worked for Emergency Response Centre International, a nonprofit search and rescue organization that operated in Lesbos from 2016 to 2018. One of the volunteers was a Syrian refugee. The island was then at the epicenter of Europe’s refugee crisis, with hundreds of people seeking asylum every day, mostly from Turkey’s neighbor.

A defense attorney and local media said that a Greek court on Friday rejected espionage accusations against a group of humanitarian workers who were on trial in Greece and ordered a prosecutor to refile the case, citing weaknesses in the legal system.

The volunteers, some of whom were foreigners, worked for Emergency Response Centre International, a nonprofit search and rescue organization that operated in Lesbos from 2016 to 2018. One of the volunteers was a Syrian refugee. The island was then at the epicenter of Europe’s refugee crisis, with hundreds of people seeking asylum every day, mostly from Turkey’s neighbor.

A prosecutor has to refile the case but this might not be possible as the charges would fall under a statute of limitations, essentially meaning that the charges have collapsed, the lawyer added.

The trial began on Lesbos in November 2021 and was immediately adjourned as the case was referred to a different court. Proceedings resumed this week.

The United Nations human rights office said on Friday the case had had a chilling effect on humanitarian organizations in the region and called for the charges to be dropped.

    Source:
  • Reuters