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BBC investigation: Greek coast guard raped and threw migrants into the sea

BBC investigation: Greek coast guard raped and threw migrants into the sea

The Greek coast guard has caused the deaths of dozens of migrants in the Mediterranean over a three-year period, witnesses say, including nine who deliberately jumped into the water.

The nine are among more than 40 people who are suspected to have died as a result of being forcibly removed from Greek territorial waters, or put back out to sea after reaching the Greek islands, writes the BBC .

The Greek Coast Guard told our investigation that it strongly disputes all allegations of illegal activity.

We showed footage of 12 people being loaded onto a Greek Coast Guard boat and then abandoned in a dinghy to a former senior Greek Coast Guard officer. When he rose from his chair and with his microphone still on, he said it was "clearly illegal" and "an international crime".

The Greek government has long been accused of forced returns - pushing people towards Turkey, from where they crossed, which is illegal under international law.

In five of the incidents, the migrants said they were thrown directly into the sea by Greek authorities. In four of these cases they explained how they had landed on the Greek islands but were hunted down. In several other incidents, migrants said they were put into inflatable dinghies without engines, which then deflated, or appeared to have been punctured.

One of the most chilling accounts was given by a Cameroonian man who says he was chased by Greek authorities after landing on the island of Samos in September 2021.

Like all the people we interviewed, he said he was planning to register on Greek soil as an asylum seeker.

"We were barely anchored and the police came from behind" , he told us. "There were two policemen dressed in black, and three others in civilian clothes. They were masked, you could only see their eyes."

He and two others - another from Cameroon and a man from Ivory Coast - were transferred to a Greek coastguard boat, he said, where events took a terrifying turn.

"They started with the other Cameroonian. They threw him into the water. The Ivory Man said: 'Save me, I don't want to die… and then only his hand was above the water and his body was below. Slowly his hand slipped down and the water engulfed him. Our interviewee says that his captors beat him. It was like they were hitting an animal ," he said.

The survivor's lawyers are demanding that Greek authorities open a case of double murder.

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