5 Greek Police Officers in Custody Pending Trial for Assisting Illegal Migrant Crossings

5 Greek Police Officers in Custody Pending Trial for Assisting Illegal Migrant Crossings
Hellenic police patrol the new 5-meter steel fence installed along the Evros River in Poros, Greece, on Jun. 13, 2021. (Byron Smith/Getty Images)

Five police officers accused of cooperating with human traffickers to facilitate the entry of at least 100 illegal immigrants into Greece are being held in custody pending trial.

The five officers had been testifying before an examining magistrate since Saturday morning at the border town of Orestiada, in northeastern Greece.

Agents from the internal affairs division of the Greek police had been monitoring the five officers, who serve in a special border guard unit, since October 2022. They also listened into their phone conversations, whose transcripts run into over 2,000 pages. The officers had aroused suspicion by volunteering to patrol at certain times, together.

Authorities say the officers facilitated at least 12 border crossings, collaborating with four traffickers of undetermined nationality who operated from Turkey.

Authorities allege that the accused officers took a cut from the money the traffickers received from the migrants to take them across the border. When the officers were arrested on May 29 in the border town of Didymoteicho, police confiscated some 26,000 euros ($28,000) in cash, and nearly 60 mobile phones.

Almost all the land border between Greece and Turkey is formed by the Evros River, called Meric in Turkey. The Evros is a key crossing point into Greece for people seeking a better life in the European Union. Greece has built a high fence along much of the border to prevent illegal migrants crossing, and is planning to further extend it.

By Costas Kantouris 

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