Greek coastguard implicated in migrant deaths, BBC reports; gov’t rejects allegations

Greek coastguard implicated in migrant deaths, BBC reports; gov’t rejects allegations

The BBC on Monday reported that the Greek coastguard is responsible for dozens of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean over a three-year period, including nine people who “were deliberately thrown into the water.”

The nine were reportedly among more than 40 people alleged to have died as a result of being forced out of Greek territorial waters or taken back out to sea after reaching the islands.

BBC journalists showed footage of 12 people being loaded into a Greek coastguard boat and then abandoned on a small vessel to a former senior Greek coastguard officer. During a break, with his microphone still on, the ex-officer reportedly said that it was “obviously illegal” and “an international crime.”

Asked about the report during Monday’s press briefing, government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis said that the competent authorities will investigate the allegations as they do with all such claims but added that “the allegations included [in the report] are not substantiated.”

Marinakis also praised the work of the coastguard, noting that they “often go beyond the limits of their duty, their responsibilities, and their obligations, saving dozens of human lives daily, sometimes even more on particularly challenging days, and they will continue to do so.”

He added that over the past year, thanks to good cooperation between Greek and Turkish authorities, a significant number of traffickers had been dismantled, effectively “tackling illegal immigration at its root.”

Coastguard officials also denied the accusations.

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