Police on Friday netted three suspects accused of opening fire on a crowd of Bangladeshi strawberry pickers in Nea Manolada in the Peloponnese and injuring 28 of them.
The arrests of the farm foremen, aged 21, 27 and 39, came a few hours after Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias pledged that none of the victims, who are here illegally, will be deported from Greece.
“None of the victims is being held or risks being deported from the country,” he said during a visit to the police station of Varda that is handling the case.
On Thursday leftist main opposition SYRIZA alleged that police were planning to deport several Bangladeshis hospitalized at Rio hospital. But in Athens, Deputy Interior Minister Haralambos Athanassiou said the government is mulling the possibility of granting residence permits on humanitarian grounds to those injured in the shooting.
In a fresh condemnation of Wednesday’s brutal assault, Dendias said the incident by no means reflected the norms and values of Greek society.
“The incident not only violates Greek laws but also every sense of humanity,” he said adding that the Labor Ministry would pass legislation in Parliament enabling police to crack down on uninsured work.
Dendias also visited three of the injured migrant workers at the university hospital in Patra and toured a strawberry farm in Manolada where he met with several farm workers.
While Dendias was in the area, police announced that two of the farm supervisors, Theodoros Apostolopoulos and Giorgos Haloulos, were arrested at their lawyer’s office. The third, Constantinos Haloulos, was stopped earlier during a road check. The suspects, all Greek nationals, face multiple charges of attempted murder.
Meanwhile, local producers appeared concerned with the backlash from the brutal assault as activists have launched a boycott campaign on Manolada strawberries.
“It would be a pity to lose one of the few remaining productive sectors,” a farmer who wished to remain unidentified told Kathimerini, adding that dozens of strawberry orders had been canceled following the assault.
“It would be a lie to say that this came out of the blue,” said a man at a local coffee shop.
“Something was bound to happen sooner or later. Fortunately no one was killed,” he said.