Trinity graduate faces 20 year sentence in Greece on human trafficking charges

The former student allegedly helped smuggle refugees into Lesbos

Photo by Joe McCallion for Trinity News

Trinity graduate Sean Binder is facing up to 20 years imprisonment in a Greek prison on suspicion of human trafficking, money laundering, espionage, and being a member of a criminal organisation. Binder is a graduate of political science, economics, sociology, and philosophy (PPES) at Trinity.

The former student was arrested in Lesbos in February but since returned to Ireland on multiple occasions. However, Binder presented himself to police following an arrest warrant issued last monday.

Binder’s solicitor has claimed that the criminal accusations are from as far back as 2016, when the Trinity graduate was not on the island.

30 other individuals from the same organisation were also under investigation for smuggling, espionage and money laundering.

Binder had been volunteering on the island of Lesbos with Emergency Response Centre International (ERCI), a non-governmental organisation. He was arrested alongside his colleague Sarah Mardini. Mardini’s sister had been a participant in the refugee Olympic team in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Nassos Karakitsos, one of the leaders of the ERCI, was also arrested.  

Speaking about his arrest to the Irish Independent, Binder’s mother Fanny Binder explained the accused has “been working for an NGO last autumn… they mostly work in migrant camps, volunteering, giving medical help and education to children, washing blankets and everything that needs to be done in a camp”.

She also pointed out that “now he’s facing going to prison and I’m really worried for him, he’s a college boy, not someone who should be going to prison for something he didn’t do”.

Binder’s mother has travelled from their home in Togher to Lesbos to support their son. This comes as the Department of Foreign Affairs announced they cannot assist Sean as he is not an Irish citizen. Binder was born in Germany, and moved to Ireland at the age of five.

Peter Kelly

Peter Kelly is a current Deputy News Editor of Trinity News. He is a Senior Fresh Law student, and a former Senior Reporter.