NEWS

80 immigrants dumped on islet

Coast guard patrols over the weekend were combing the Aegean for an immigrant-smuggling vessel that set ashore 80 Iraqi Kurds on a desert islet off Evia. The illegal immigrants – 72 men, six women and two children – were found marooned on Saturday morning on the islet of Kavaliani, between Nea Styra and Aliveri off the southeastern coast of Evia and within rowing distance of northern Attica. Yesterday, they were transferred to temporary accommodation in Nea Styra. Evia has become a favored drop-off point for immigrant smugglers who often present the island to their passengers – who pay up to $2,500 dollars apiece to be clandestinely shipped to the European Union – as the Italian coast. Close to 1,000 illegal immigrants have been detained on Evia since early 2001, with a record 350 arrested in one group last June. Meanwhile, police at Athens airport late on Saturday arrested French national Dinka Zhia, 63, and his daughter Rita, 19, on suspicion of running a migrant-smuggling ring that arranged for illegal immigrants to fly to France with false passports.