Two migrants die after Greek guards throw them in sea: Report

A cargo ship carries migrants during a rescue operation, off the Greek island of Crete, in October 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

ATHENS (AFP) - A Cameroonian asylum seeker has accused Greek border guards of throwing him into the sea, along with two other men who died, a media investigation published on Thursday (Feb 17) said - claims denied by Greece.

The man told journalists from Germany's Der Spiegel, Britain's Guardian newspaper, France's Mediapart and the Netherlands-based Lighthouse Reports that he and the two other West Africans were taken from the Greek island of Samos, near the sea border with Turkey.

The other men - one from Cameroon and the other from Ivory Coast - were found dead by Turkish officials last September, the report said.

But Greece's Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi dismissed the report as "fake news" fuelled by "Turkish propaganda".

"In the absence of any action by the Turkish authorities, the Greek coastguard continues to save the lives of thousands of men, women and children at sea every year," he said in a statement.

He claimed they had rescued "230,000 people from third countries in danger at sea" from 2015 to 2021.

Journalists involved in the investigation interviewed witnesses and analysed medical reports, photos and videos, as well as talking to informants from the Greek security authorities.

Two Greek officials reportedly confirmed that the authorities there have repeatedly pushed migrants into the sea, mainly in small groups.

The Greek authorities have denied the allegations.

According to Der Spiegel, Greek lawyers are preparing a complaint in a local court, while Turkish lawyers have filed a case with the European Court of Human Rights.

Since May 2021, the Turkish coastguard has registered 29 pushbacks involving people allegedly being thrown into the water, Der Spiegel said.

Turkey regularly accuses Greek officials of illegally pushing migrants back into its territory. Athens denies the claims.

Earlier this month, Turkey said it had found 19 frozen bodies close to the Greek border. Ankara accused Greece of allowing the migrants to die in the winter cold after stripping them of their clothes and forcing them back across the border.

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