Advertisement

Controversial Trial of Migrant Rescue Workers Begins in Lesbos

Refugee aid workers including Sarah Mardini and Sean Binder went on trial on the Greek island of Lesbos on Tuesday, January 10, despite calls from human rights organizations and politicians for the charges to be dropped.

Mardini, a Syrian living in Germany, and Binder, who is German-Irish, are among 24 people on trial for charges in relation to their work with Emergency Response Center International (ERCI), a search-and-rescue NGO active in waters off Lesbos from 2016 to 2018, according to Human Rights Watch. At the time, the ERCI was “working closely with police and the coastguard”, the Irish Examiner said.

Mardini and Binder face charges of “espionage, disclosure of state secrets, unlawful use of radio frequencies and forgery,” according to the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Amnesty International called the charges “unfair” and “baseless”, while Human Rights Watch said the trial “criminalizes life-saving humanitarian solidarity.”

This footage from MEP Grace O’Sullivan shows her with Binder before the trial in Lesbos.

O’Sullivan later tweeted the trial was not adjourned, leading to “chaos in the courthouse.” Credit: Grace O’Sullivan via Storyful

Video transcript

- I'm outside the court today, a house here in Lesbos in Greece. I'm with Sean Binder. He's just about to stand trial. And it's just horrific to be here and to see good people like Sean [INAUDIBLE] to be doing really important work in the Mediterranean, and they're facing criminal charges. So look, fingers crossed, and that we would see the case being dropped, and that Sean and the others will be freed today.

I'm outside the court, a house here in Lesbos in Greece. I'm with Sean Binder. He's just about to stand trial. And it's just a horrific to be here and to see good people like Sean [INAUDIBLE] to be doing really important work in the Mediterranean, and they're facing criminal charges. So, look, fingers crossed and that we would see the case being dropped, and that Sean and the others will be freed today.

I'm outside the court, a house here in Lesbos in Greece. I'm with Sean Binder. He's just about to stand trial. And it's just horrific to be here and to see good people like Sean [INAUDIBLE] to be doing really important work in the Mediterranean, and they're facing criminal charges. So, look, fingers crossed and that we would see the case being dropped and that Sean and the others will be freed today.