They saved refugees stranded at sea. Now they’re on trial


A trial of 24 rescue staff has begun in Greece, prompting criticism from human rights teams and the European Parliament, which has known as the proceedings “the largest case of criminalization of solidarity in Europe.”

The trial of Sean Binder, Sarah Mardini and 22 different volunteers from the search and rescue NGO Emergency Response Middle Worldwide started in Lesbos on Tuesday, in keeping with Grace O’Sullivan, an EU lawmaker who mentioned she accompanied Binder to courtroom.

The 2 highest-profile defendants, Binder and Mardini, had been arrested in 2018 after they took half in a number of search and rescue operations across the Lesbos island to help refugees stranded at sea.

Binder, a educated diver, is a twin Irish and German citizen, whereas Mardini is a Syrian refugee who herself arrived to Europe through sea.

Mardini gained worldwide consideration after it emerged that she and her sister saved the lives of fellow asylum seekers when the boat they had been touring on from Turkey to Greece encountered problem. Mardini’s sister Yusra went on to swim for the Refugee staff on the Olympics. The sisters’ story was not too long ago dropped at life within the Netflix movie “The Swimmers.”

Mardini returned to Greece in 2016 to volunteer with Emergency Response Middle Worldwide the place she labored alongside Binder.

The 2 have been charged with felonies together with espionage, aiding smuggling networks, membership of a felony group, and cash laundering and will withstand 25 years in jail if discovered responsible, in keeping with a European Parliament report revealed in June 2021.

Mardini’s lawyer Zacharias Kesses in 2018 known as the allegations “arbitrary,” including in a video message that the claims have “nothing to do with real evidence.” Binder has additionally denied the allegations, warning that their case had “frightened people away from doing this kind of work.”

The case is “currently the largest case of criminalization of solidarity in Europe,” in keeping with the European Parliament report.

“All we are asking for, all our lawyers have demanded is that the rule of law is respected. That Greek laws are respected,” Binder informed journalists on Tuesday after the courtroom listening to wrapped for the day.

“We want the rule of law, and we will find out Friday if we will get the rule of law or the rule of flaws” Binder continued, saying the prosecution had made “flaw after flaw” of their case.

In a December 22 assertion, Human Rights Watch known as on the Greek prosecutor to drop the costs, saying the case “effectively criminalizes life-saving humanitarian solidarity for people on the move.”

Nils Muižnieks, Director of Amnesty Worldwide’s European Regional Workplace, mentioned in a January 5 assertion that the trial “reveals how the Greek authorities will go to extreme lengths to deter humanitarian assistance and discourage migrants and refugees from seeking safety on the country’s shores.”

“It is farcical that this trial is even taking place. All charges against the rescuers must be dropped without delay,” Muižnieks added.