Greek court rejects charges against aid workers who helped migrants in Lesbos

© Manolis Lagoutaris, AFP

A court on the Greek island of Lesbos on Friday rejected charges against a group of aid workers and volunteers who participated in migrant rescue operations, ruling on procedural grounds to return the case to the prosecution for refiling.

The case, in which 24 people - 17 foreigners and seven Greeks - were charged over their work with migrants newly arriving on Lesbos, has drawn widespread criticism from human rights organizations. The defendants argue they were doing nothing more than assisting people whose lives were at risk.

“Trials like this are deeply concerning because they criminalize life-saving work and set a dangerous precedent,” the U.N. Human Rights Office said before the court decision Friday. “Indeed, there has already been a chilling effect, with human rights defenders and humanitarian organizations forced to halt their human rights work in Greece and other EU countries.”

Those on trial included prominent Syrian human rights worker Sarah Mardini, a refugee and competitive swimmer whose sister Yusra Mardini was part of the refugee swimming team at the Olympic Games in 2016 and 2021. The sisters’ story was made into a Netflix movie.

The court dismissed the charges over radio frequencies as the law they were filed under has since been abolished.


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