The trial of 24 aid workers in Greece, including Syrian refugee Sarah Mardini, who inspired the Netflix movie “The Bathers,” on “espionage” charges, has been postponed until Friday.
The statement issued by the court announced that only charges of “espionage” against the volunteers would be investigated, while charges of money laundering, smuggling of immigrants and fraud would be considered after the end of the investigation.
The European Parliament describes the prosecution of volunteers who helped migrants reach Greece between 2016 and 2018 as “the largest criminalization of solidarity in Europe”.
According to Amnesty International, the defendants, who work for a non-governmental organization that rescues migrants who reach Lesbos from the Turkish coast, face “a prison sentence of up to 25 years” on all charges against them.
According to Human Rights Watch, the prosecution is based on police reports that contain factual errors, “including allegations that some of the defendants participated in rescue operations when they were not even in Greece.”
Mardini: I left the university because of the psychological problems that I suffer from because of the lawsuit
On the other hand, the Syrian refugee Sarah Mardini, who resides in Berlin, was unable to attend the session due to the ban imposed on entering Greece. Mardini spent three months in prison in Greece before she was allowed to return to Berlin in 2018.
When the young woman was arrested in August 2018, she was working as a volunteer for the NGO ERCI in Lesbos, where hundreds of thousands of refugees, mostly Syrians, flocked in dire conditions in 2015 and 2016.
Mardini and her sister, Olympic swimmer Yusra, arrived in 2015 after a dangerous journey from Syria to Europe, and their story was the subject of the Netflix movie “The Bathers.” Sarah Mardini, who has been suffering from psychological problems since 2018 due to the lawsuit, said that she took a break from her university education, which she started in Germany, for this reason.
NGOs charged with rescuing migrants at sea have suspended almost all of their activities in Greece, accused of illegally sending migrants to Turkey across sea and land borders, in the face of a growing number of lawsuits filed against them.
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