NEWS

Military admits migrant abuse

The Defense Ministry yesterday admitted that army commandos on a remote eastern Aegean islet violently abused a group of illegal immigrants who landed there last week. No one was immediately punished. This followed a report in yesterday's Eleftherotypia daily that commandos on Farmakonissi, an uninhabited islet east of Patmos in the Dodecanese, on Friday brutally abused 10 Palestinian and Afghan men whom they caught on a beach. Eleftherotypia said the soldiers videotaped the abuse and showed it to regular infantry conscripts in the Farmakonissi garrison, who were disgusted and made the story public. In a statement yesterday evening, the ministry said a major-general and a team of military doctors had been sent to Farmakonissi to investigate the complaints. Due to bad weather, the team was only able to make landfall yesterday morning. «The investigation showed that violent abuse had indeed taken place,» the statement said. «The army chief of staff ordered the immediate replacement of the Farmakonissi garrison, as well as an official investigation into whether administrative or criminal offenses were committed.» Meanwhile, the drowned bodies of four Asian illegal immigrants were found off Lesvos yesterday, raising the number of migrants lost in the eastern Aegean since Saturday to at least nine. Coast guard located the four male corpses on an islet off Thermi, on the island's northern coast. On Sunday, seven illegal immigrants were caught on land near Thermi. Over the weekend, rescuers found the bodies of four men and a woman, all Afghans, who drowned when a wooden boat carrying 20 people foundered in high seas off Samos, about 100 miles south of Lesvos. Seven survivors were picked up, while eight were still missing yesterday despite a large search operation.

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