The Greek coastguard rescued 17 illegal migrants after people traffickers had abandoned them aboard a stolen boat that had been damaged.
The boat had been stolen from the port of Agios Stefanos on the island of Corfu on Saturday, and investigators had been searching for the vessel until it was finally found adrift in the Ionian Sea.
According to a report from the Greek newspaper Proto Thema, the boat was located in the westernmost part of Greece near the island of Othonoi after the Greek search and rescue coordination centre had been informed that the vessel had been damaged.
The migrants on board told authorities that people traffickers had abandoned them after paying to get them to Italy, with the newspaper theorising that the traffickers likely accompanied the vessel with their own speedboat.
The stolen ship has since been transferred to a port on Othonoi where it will be examined before being returned to its owner. The migrants, meanwhile, were transferred into custody in Corfu.
Turkish Minister Accuses Greece of Handcuffing Migrants and Throwing Them into the Sea https://t.co/3kphOAIGBz
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 21, 2021
The Europe migrant crisis has been characterised by the extraordinary and callous cruelty of people smugglers, who take large amounts of money to convey migrants to Europe in often deadly conditions. Italy has jailed smugglers for crimes including human trafficking, torture, sexual violence, murder, and extortionary kidnapping, and it has been claimed smugglers deliberately put pregnant women in danger to ensure a compassionate response from the authorities for their customers.
The latest case comes as a new wave of migrants have attempted to leave Greece for Europe in recent weeks, with the numbers of migrants at the land border with North Macedonia increasing, according to a report from last month.
While the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic has decreased the number of migrants attempting to enter Greece by land and sea, a small number continue to try and enter the county illegally from Turkey.
In March, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu accused the Greek authorities of having handcuffed migrants and thrown them overboard.
“Greek coast guard units battered seven migrants tonight, took their belongings, tied their hands in plastic handcuffs, and threw them to their deaths in the sea without lifejackets or boats,” Soylu claimed.