US News: Assistance to migrants: The trial of 24 volunteers in Lesbos postponed

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Les bénévoles réunis avant l’ouverture de leur procès en Grèce. © Reuters The volunteers gathered before the opening of their trial in Greece.

The trial of Sarah Mardini and Sean Binder opened Thursday, November 18, 2021 in Lesbos, Greek island located opposite the Turkish coasts become one of the symbolic places of the migration crisis. It has been adjourned and returned to the Court of Appeal without a date being already defined.

The trial of 24 volunteers including a Syrian refugee and many foreigners, charged in 2018 for helping migrants to go to Lesbos's Greek Island , was postponed Thursday and returned to a higher jurisdiction.

The Criminal Court of First Instance of Lesbos decided that it was not competent to judge this case because a lawyer was part of the accused and according to the Greek jurisdiction, he must be judged by the Court of Appeal, said. Haris Petsikos to the media coming out of the Mytilene courthouse, capital of lesbos.

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No date was fixed for the new trial returned to the Mytilene Court of Appeal.

Some activists were detained three months

activists are accused of having participated in illegal immigration by helping migrants to join Lesbos after crossing the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey.

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among the accused, appear Sean Binder, a young German and a Syrian refugee Sarah Mardini living in Germany, who had saved refugees. In Aegean with his Olympic swimmer in the 2015 migration crisis.

These two young people had been detained more than three months in a Greek prison after their arrest before being released on condition in December 2018. They could then leave the country. They risk five years in prison if they are convicted.

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I feel very angry [...] because we have to wait for more years, told journalists the Binder, 27-year-old life diver, who lives in the United Kingdom and went to Lesbos for trial.

The trial does not seem fair, he added, believing that there is a legal vacuum that blocks independent rescue efforts and lose lives at sea.

Sarah Mardini has a judicial prohibition to return to Greece, which is why she was represented by her lawyer.

accused of participating in a "criminal organization"

Sarah and Sean are also charged for the crimes of participation in a criminal organization aimed at illegal immigration and for espionage, punishable by a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison but the investigation is still at the stage of instruction, according to me Petsikos.

Many NGOs including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW), accused Greek authorities to criminalize assistance to migrants.

Volunteers are tried to have been members of the Emergency Response Center International (ERCI), a search and rescue NGO that had operated in Lesbos between 2016 to 2018.

The arrests had forced the NGO to cease its operations, which included the provision of medical care and informal education to migrants and asylum seekers.

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