The trial of 24 people who helped rescue migrants in the Mediterranean in Greece, including Trinity graduate Seán Binder, has been adjourned until Friday, when a judge will decide whether to drop charges against the defendants.
At a hearing on the island of Lesbos today, the legal team for the defence today submitted objections to the case based on constant mistakes made by the prosecution, and the charges being too vague for defendants to fairly defend themselves against them.
According to TheJournal.ie, the defence claimed that subpoenas issued by the prosecution did not contain any evidence for the crimes alleged to have been committed, and did not refer to specific dates on which the alleged crimes took place, as well as a number of other flaws with the prosecution’s case.
Human Rights Watch have said that throughout the case, the prosecution has been “riddled with procedural flaws that undermine their rights to due process and a fair trial”. These have included indictments being issued without translation, with missing documentation, or without clearly stating what offences individuals have actually been charged with.
Speaking outside the court today, Binder said his defence team had provided “irrefutable reasons” why the charges against him should be dropped.
“The prosecution has made mistake after mistake: they’ve violated our human rights; they’ve made procedural errors; they’ve done everything possible so that this trial can’t happen,” he said.
Amnesty International has called on Greek authorities to drop the charges in the “farcical” trial.
“All we’re asking for, all our lawyers have demanded, is that the rule of law is respected and that Greek laws are respected,” Binder added.
Binder said that the court’s decision on Friday will show whether the defendants face “the rule of law or the rule of flaw”.
“This is what the prosecution has done, it has made flaw after flaw and mistake after mistake and that cannot continue were supposed to have democratic values and basic principles, and I hope that on Friday that is achieved.”
Binder was born in Germany and moved to Co. Kerry at the age of five. He studied philosophy, political science, economics, and sociology (PPES) in Trinity and also holds a Masters in International Relations at the London School of Economics (LSE).
Binder went to Greece in 2017 to work with Emergency Response Centre International (ERCI) carrying out search-and-rescue operations and helping migrants arriving in Greece by sea. He was arrested in 2018 on charges of people smuggling, money laundering, espionage and membership in a criminal organisation, and spent over 100 days in prison before being granted bail.
Sara Mardini, who was arrested the same day as Binder in 2018 is among the 24 defendants facing trial.
Mardini is the subject of recent Netflix film The Swimmers which documents how she and her sister Yusra, who went on to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, fled Syria in 2015. Mardini returned to Greece in 2016 to help other migrants making the crossing to Lesbos.