Officer jailed for smuggling

A policeman arrested three times in the past two months for people-smuggling received a 10-year prison sentence on Saturday after being found guilty of setting 26 Iraqi illegal immigrants ashore on the eastern Aegean island of Icaria last week. A court on the island of Samos, next to Icaria, also imposed a 15,000-euro fine on Christos Demertzis, 44, who was suspended two months before his first arrest pending charges of people-smuggling. His accomplice, sailor Nikolaos Hadzipavlou, 39, was also sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment and fined 15,000 euros. The two were arrested on Tuesday off the village of Karkinagri, on Icaria, in a 9-meter speedboat they had previously used to ferry the illegal immigrants over from Turkey. Demertzis was arrested for similar offenses on April 10 and May 3 – for which he still has to stand trial – but was released both times. At the time of his first arrest, aboard the Turkish boat Mete that was carrying 84 illegal immigrants to Chios, Demertzis claimed that the Turkish seamen were friends of his who had sought his help to mend their engine.

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