Turkey accused Greek coast guards on Friday of killing at least three migrants by throwing them into the sea with their hands shackled, claiming to have rescued three others, accusations “categorically” refuted by Greek agents.
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“Last night, the Greek Coast Guard beat seven migrants, then stripped them of their possessions before shackling their hands with plastic handcuffs and throwing them into the sea, without life jackets or lifeboats, abandoning them to death, ”Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Twitter.
Turkish coast guards said they rescued three people and found three dead bodies in the Aegean Sea. “The search continues to find the last missing person,” they said in a statement.
Mr. Soylu also shared a video in which a man presented as one of the survivors claims that the group of migrants he was part of was arrested Thursday by the Greek authorities on the island of Chios, two days after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey.
“They took our phones and our money and beat us. We were a group of seven people. They pushed us [à la mer] with kicks, ”he said in rudimentary Turkish.
A second man portrayed as a migrant appears in this video with a plastic cable tie around his wrists.
AFP was unable to independently verify these claims.
The Greek coastguard denied “categorically” on Friday having handcuffed and thrown the migrants into the sea. “This is fake news, part of Turkey’s constant efforts to smear the image” of Greece, they said.
The latter have on several occasions been accused of illegally returning migrants who try to reach Greece from Turkey, accusations that Athens has rejected.
Ankara notably accuses the Greek forces of bursting inflatable boats with migrants on board to prevent them from advancing.
The Aegean Sea is one of the main routes for migrants to travel illegally to Europe.
After the influx in 2015 of several hundred thousand people fleeing in particular the conflicts in the Middle East, Turkey and the EU signed a controversial agreement in 2016 which drastically reduced the number of passages.