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




CNN
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A trial of 24 rescue workers has begun in Greece, prompting criticism from human rights teams and the European Parliament, which has known as the proceedings “the biggest 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 Center International started in Lesbos on Tuesday, in keeping with Grace O’Sullivan, an EU lawmaker who mentioned she accompanied Binder to court docket.

The two 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 crew on the Olympics. The sisters’ story was just lately dropped at life within the Netflix film “The Swimmers.”

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

The two have been charged with felonies together with espionage, helping smuggling networks, membership of a felony group, and cash laundering and will resist 25 years in jail if discovered responsible, in keeping with a European Parliament report printed 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 actual proof.” Binder has additionally denied the allegations, warning that their case had “frightened individuals away from doing this type of work.”

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

“All we’re asking for, all our attorneys have demanded is that the rule of regulation is revered. That Greek legal guidelines are revered,” Binder advised journalists on Tuesday after the court docket listening to wrapped for the day.

“We need the rule of regulation, and we’ll discover out Friday if we’ll get the rule of regulation 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 fees, saying the case “successfully criminalizes life-saving humanitarian solidarity for individuals on the transfer.”

Nils Muižnieks, Director of Amnesty International’s European Regional Office, mentioned in a January 5 assertion that the trial “reveals how the Greek authorities will go to excessive lengths to discourage humanitarian help and discourage migrants and refugees from looking for security on the nation’s shores.”

“It is farcical that this trial is even happening. All prices towards the rescuers have to be dropped at once,” Muižnieks added.

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