It’s finally over, the three firemen from Sevilla who had been accused of people smuggling in Greece were acquitted — a happy ending to a nightmare.
Manuel Blanco, Enrique Rodríguez and Julio Latorre had volunteered to help rescue immigrants from the sea in their RIB – they had been moved by the plight of the Syrian refugees and had joined a Danish NGO (Team Humanity) who were doing the same.
These good Samaritans faced imprisonment: people smugglers face 10 years imprisonment for every immigrant that they have on board.
When the Greek Coastguards arrested them upon returning to port — both fortunately and unfortunately — that day (January the 14th, 2016) they hadn’t managed to pick any up.
They had also originally been charged with possessing weapons, as well – they had standard rope-cutting knifes in their lifesavers, but this charge was later dropped.
They had to pay 15,000 euros bail to be allowed to return to Spain to await the trail.
At the trial the firemen emphasised the fact that they are public functionaries using their own vacation time and had informed the Greek authorities at all times of their presence and intentions.
One of the key testimonies was from the Greek Coastguards themselves, who recognised that they had called on the firemen to assist them on several occasions.
(News: Sevilla, Andalucia)