Smuggler forced to look at drowned children's bodies

Smuggler forced to look at drowned children's bodies
Greece's shipping minister criticised coastguards who made a suspected smuggler look at the body bags of three drowned refugee children, as an aid group questioned Europe's migrant deterrence policies.
2 min read
20 January, 2016
Smugglers face heavy sentences in Greece [Getty]
Coastguards who forced an alleged Turkish smuggler to look at the bodies of three dead refugee children were criticised by Greece's shipping minister.

Thodoris Dritsas said in a statement late on Monday that the behaviour of the coastguards was an "exaggeration".

Sky News on Friday reported how a 21-year-old Turk, who was driving a smuggler boat was arrested by Greek coastguards after the boat capsized killing a four-year-old girl and two two-year-old boys.

It also broadcast footage of the alleged smuggler being forced to look at the bodies of the children until he broke down in tears.

"The state and its officials should be cool-headed and professional against any detainee, even one accused of heinous crimes," Dritsas said.

"We should all respect the presumption of innocence until one is irrevocably declared to be guilty," the minister added.

The Turkish man, who faces charges of manslaughter, told Sky News he had been forced to pilot the boat.

Convicted migrant smugglers face heavy sentences in Greece if convicted.

In 2014, a court in Crete handed down multiple life sentences - essentially 25 years in prison - to three Syrians and a Greek caught transporting dozens of migrants inside trucks.

Policies of deterrence

The aid group Doctors Without Borders said on Tuesday that attempts by various European Union nations to deter migrants have put thousands of people in danger and created more business for smugglers.

In a report, it said border closures and tougher policing only encourage people seeking sanctuary or jobs to use other routes to get to Europe.

"Policies of deterrence, along with their chaotic response to the humanitarian needs of those who flee, actively worsened the conditions of thousands of vulnerable men, women and children," said the aid group's head of operations, Brice de le Vingne.

The group, also known as MSF, urged the EU to create more legal ways to come to Europe and allow asylum applications at the land border between Turkey and Greece.

More than 1 million migrants arrived in the EU last year, but they haven't always been welcomed.

Agencies contributed to this report.