Charges Against Sarah Mardini Dismissed by Greek Court

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Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

Charges Against Sarah Mardini Dismissed by Greek Court

Sarah Mardini, an activist and the sister of Refugee Olympic Team swimmer Yusra Mardini, had charges against her in Greece dismissed by a court last week.

Mardini and two dozen other aid workers had charges, which included espionage, dropped against her on Friday. The court on the Greek island of Lesbos issued the ruling on procedural grounds, saying that the government had not properly translated files in presenting evidence. There is a chance that charges could be refiled, though a statute of limitations on many are set to expire next month.

Mardini and others faced up to eight years in prison for work she did as part of non-governmental organizations aiding refugees from the Middle East landing in Greek shores. The charges had been decried by many international bodies, including the United Nations’ human rights office and Amnesty International, as trumped up scare tactics aimed at discouraging immigration to Greece and at intimidating those who would provide aid.

Mardini posted on social media hailing the decision to exclude the “error-ridden indictment.” But felony charges remain, with longer statutes of limitations, that the government could refile, meaning the defendants remain in limbo until the Greek government decides to act.

 

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“We would not have achieved this small victory without the immense support inside and outside Greece,” Mardini wrote. “Our fight for justice continues.”

Sarah Mardini and her younger sister Yusra fled from Syria in 2015. When the boat they were escaping on foundered in the Aegean Sea, the sisters swam the boat to safety, a journey chronicled in the Netflix movie, “The Swimmers.” Yusra went on to swim for the Refugee Olympic Committee at the 2016 and 2021 Olympics. Sarah returned to Greece in 2018 as an aid worker for others who have followed a journey westward similar to hers.

She and other aid workers, including Irishman Sean Binder, were arrested in 2018 and accused with a slew of charges, including felony accusations of human trafficking and espionage.

The UN and others have urged Greek authorities to drop the remaining charges against the group of aid workers. Their continued prosecution has, in the words of a UN spokesperson, “undermined the protection of human rights and shrunk the civic space.” An Amnesty International petition calling for the unequivocal dropping of charges has garnered more than 35,000 signatures.

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