Greece: prosecution appeal prolongs ordeal of Seán Binder and Sarah Mardini

Seán Binder and Sarah Mardini were originally arrested in August 2018 © Amnesty International

The refugee rescue volunteers were originally arrested in 2018 after helping refugees and migrants at risk of drowning 

Pair may still face charges of espionage and forgery which can carry sentences of up to eight years in jail

‘This appeal is only further prolonging Sarah and Seán’s ordeal’ - Adriana Tidona 

The Supreme Court of Greece will today hear an appeal by a prosecutor that could result in a case against refugee rescue volunteers Sarah Mardini and Seán Binder being taken back to court for a new trial. 

Ahead of the hearing, Adriana Tidona, Amnesty International’s Migration Researcher, said:

“Sarah Mardini and Seán Binder should never have been put on trial for their human rights work. They were simply volunteering on the Greek shoreline, helping refugees and migrants at risk of drowning at sea. 

“Several human rights defenders similarly face criminalisation for their work with refugees and migrants, while this case has already had a chilling effect that may deter others from doing the same.

“This appeal is only further prolonging Sarah and Seán’s ordeal. 

“Amnesty International is once again urging the Greek authorities to drop all charges against Sarah and Seán. Not only are they based on an abusive interpretation of anti-smuggling legislation, but they are also not backed up by any evidence whatsoever.”

Seán Binder said:

“We are confident that we will get a fair trial and the court will uphold the decision to dismiss the indictment against us. But if the Supreme Court sides with the prosecutor, then we fear our right to a fair trial is being denied.”

Recent legal decisions

In January, the Court of Appeal of Mytilene found procedural flaws in the original summons against Sarah Mardini and Seán Binder, including a lack of translation. The Court of Appeal’s ruling resulted in the summons being annulled and the case against Mardini and Binder being rejected. In February, a Supreme Court deputy prosecutor appealed the decision. Should the prosecutor’s appeal now be successful, the misdemeanour trial will start anew and the statute of limitations for these charges will be extended by three years. Today’s hearing is not expected to see the court issuing a decision today. Mardini and Binder, who will not be present at today’s hearing, were originally accused of misdemeanour offences and may still face charges of espionage and forgery which can carry sentences of up to eight years in prison.
 

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