Greek coast guard confronts Turkish smuggler with dead migrant bodies
Yorgo Kırbaki – ATHENSThe Greek coast guard has confronted a Turkish human smuggler with the dead bodies of three migrant children who were in his capsized boat “as a lesson,” while charging the trafficker with 120 years of imprisonment.
The smuggler, identified only as Özkan A., was trafficking 23 migrants, including six children and five women, to the Greek island of Samos when his boat capsized off Turkey’s Aegean coast.
While Özkan A. and 20 of the migrants were rescued by the search and rescue foundation Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), three children were retrieved dead. According to reports, two of the children were four years old and the other was two years old.
After the MOAS rescue boat docked at Samos Island, Greek coast guard teams entered the boat and handcuffed Özkan A., before forcing him to kneel and confront the bodies of the children who lost their lives.
Video footage of the incident has emerged showing the smuggler as he sits and cries watching the toddlers as they are placed inside coffins.
Özkan A. has confessed to being paid $3,000 each time he smuggled a boat of migrants to Greece, saying he previously trafficked migrants to the islands of Lesbos and Samos, Doğan News Agency reported.
He now faces up to 120 years in prison, reports added.
Daily Hürriyet contacted the father of Özkan A., who lives in the Milas district of Turkey’s southwestern Muğla province.
The father claimed that his son had behavioral disorders and psychological problems, for which he had received medical treatment until 2013.
“He [Özkan A.] has the intelligence of a six-year-old,” he said, adding that his son had left home and phoned the family on Jan. 13 but they had not heard from him since.
Greek islands in the Aegean Sea saw more than 800,000 migrants - many of them refugees fleeing war-torn Syria - land on their shores from Turkey in 2015, their first EU stop on a journey to new lives in Germany, Sweden and elsewhere.
Turkey itself has taken in over 2 million refugees from neighboring Syria where a conflict has been continuing since the early days of 2011.