Five Greek Border Cops Charged With Smuggling Migrants from Turkey

ATHENS – As Greece’s New Democracy government has repeatedly denied charges of pushing back refugees, five Greek border police officers were charged with being part of an operation to smuggle them in from Turkey.

They were not named but Agence France-Presse (AFP) said they were accused of being accomplices of a human trafficking network that Turkey has allowed to keep sending refugees and migrants during an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union.


Turkey is supposed to contain some 4.4 million people who went there fleeing war, strife and economic hardship in their homelands, especially Syria and Afghanistan but as far as Pakistan, Bangladesh and sub-Saharan Africa.

The five men appeared before a prosecutor in the northeastern city of Orestiada, a day after the police department’s internal affairs division said they had been arrested on suspicion of taking bribes and breach of duty.

They are accused of helping to smuggle an unknown number of migrants on at least 12 occasions in the Didymoteicho area in northeastern Greece, the police said in a statement, not indicating how they were caught.

“An investigation so far has shown that the officers had been in contact with networks operating in a neighboring country at least since October, and allegedly carried out actions or omissions aimed at facilitating the entry of (non-EU) nationals into our country,” it said.

The report said authorities had evidence including nearly 60 cellphones, Turkish lira and banknotes banknotes from a number of Asian countries, the traffickers charging thousands of euros to smuggle people into Greece.

That’s usually done from Turkey’s coast to five nearby Greek islands where thousands are being held in detention camps while awaiting processing of asylum applications, the EU having closed its borders to them.

But with patrols in the Aegean Sea, refugees and trying to sneak across the land border from Turkey, especially along the Evros River where a border wall is being extended to try to keep them out.

Those who manage to get across – Greece said none had since patrols increased including electronic tracking, drones and more guards – are then met by traffickers taking them via vehicles into the country.


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