Turkey accuses Greece of leaving handcuffed migrants at sea

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Turkish officials on Friday accused Greek coast guards of handcuffing seven migrants and throwing them into the Aegean Sea without life jackets, resulting in at least three deaths, Agence France-Presse reported.

In the latest dispute about so-called “pushbacks” of people seeking refuge in Europe, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu tweeted images that he said showed Turkey’s rescue of two of the migrants.

“Greek coast guards battered seven migrants, took their belongings, tied their hands in plastic cuffs and threw them in the sea without life jackets,” Soylu tweeted.

The Turkish coast guard later issued a statement saying they had rescued three people and found the bodies of two others, while a third died in hospital.

“The search for the last missing person continues,” the Turkish coast guards said.

The images tweeted by Soylu showed one of the apparent survivors saying in rudimentary Turkish that his group was arrested on the Greek island of Chios on Thursday.

“They took our phones and our money, then beat us,” the man says in the clip.

Greece denies violating the law while protecting its coasts.

A probe into allegations of illegal migrant pushbacks on the Greece-Turkey maritime border concluded this month that the EU’s border agency Frontex needed to make “urgent improvements” in its transparency.

The final report said poor reporting practices meant that investigators could not clearly determine if pushbacks had occurred in five of the cases under review.

Pushbacks prevent asylum-seekers from making claims for protected status, and if practised indiscriminately can constitute a violation of core EU human rights laws and the 1951 Geneva Convention.

Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi told AFP this week that his country protects its borders “in accordance to European regulations and international law.”

“We haven’t returned boats. We have prevented boats from entering European and Greek territory, but this is something allowed by the regulations,” Mitarachi said.

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