(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AFP
Lesbos Island, Greece: A Greek court on Friday dropped espionage charges against 24 activists involved in rescuing migrants, after a lengthy trial denounced by rights groups as a sham.
In the ruling read to the chamber, the court admitted procedural faults, including insufficient translation of prosecution documents, and a lack of access to interpreters for the defendants.
The activists are still facing an investigation on charges of human trafficking, money laundering, fraud, and the unlawful use of radio frequencies.
The ruling came just hours after the United Nations called for the charges to be dropped.
The European parliament has branded the trial, which began in November 2021, 'the largest case of criminalisation of solidarity in Europe.'
Rescue worker German-Irish Sean Binder (left), a co-accused, talks to the media outside a court in Mytilene on January 13, 2023. ((Photo by Manolis Lagoutaris / AFP)
Among those charged is Syrian swimmer Sarah Mardini, whose family story and dramatic crossing of the Aegean Sea in 2015 inspired Netflix film The Swimmers.
Some 50 humanitarian workers are currently facing prosecution in Greece, following a trend in Italy which has also criminalised the provision of aid to migrants.
Greece's conservative government, elected in 2019, has vowed to make the country 'less attractive' to migrants.
Part of that strategy involves extending an existing 40-kilometre (25-mile) wall on the Turkish border in the Evros region by 80 kilometres.
Tens of thousands of people fleeing Africa and the Middle East seek to enter Greece, Italy and Spain in the hope of better lives in the European Union.
Despite in-depth investigations by media and NGOs, alongside abundant testimony from alleged victims, Greek authorities have consistently denied pushing back people trying to land on its shores.
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