ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Two people suspected of smuggling migrants and endangering lives have been arrested for leading a sailboat carrying 68 other people who ran into trouble off the west coast of Greece last week , the Coast Guard announced on Tuesday.
The Coast Guard said the two – an Iraqi and a Syrian – appeared before a prosecutor in southern Greece and were remanded in custody pending trial.
Separately, in northern Greece, police say a young Pakistani migrant was killed and two others injured after they were hit by a freight train as they walked along train tracks towards the border with North Macedonia.
The sailboat had set sail from Turkey and was heading for Italy when it ran into trouble off western Greece last Thursday, the coast guard said. Those on board came from Iran, Syria and Iraq and included 52 men, nine women and nine children.
A search and rescue operation was launched and the yacht was safely escorted to the port of Pylos in southwestern Greece on Friday. Authorities did not confirm the incident until Tuesday.
Greece lies along one of the most popular migration routes to Europe for people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, with most heading from the Turkish coast to the neighboring Greek islands, or attempting to cross a river separating the two countries.
But Greece has taken an increasingly hard line, stepping up land and sea patrols and turning away would-be asylum seekers. Rights and migrant groups have repeatedly accused Greek authorities of carrying out unlawful summary expulsions, known as pushbacks, at sea and on land. The government denies that this took place, despite strong indications to the contrary.
Amid the crackdown, some smuggling rings have attempted to circumvent Greece, using larger boats to sail across the country directly to Italy.
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