Greek Ombudsman launches investigation over illegally pushed-back Frontex interpreter
Italian resident, scores of refugees pushed to Turkey by Greek officials in September, media reports say
The Greek Ombudsman launched an investigation Wednesday regarding a case of an illegally pushed-back Frontex interpreter into Turkish waters, according to media reports.
The office took action after the transmission of an Italian resident interpreter’s complaint was made through the FRONTEX Complaint Mechanism, said the Avgi newspaper.
The daily noted that the interpreter claimed he was violently attacked by Greek forces, who eventually pushed him, along with at least 100 other refugees, towards Turkey.
The state office also released a statement confirming the investigation.
“This is the second individual complaint about pushbacks the FRONTEX Complaint Mechanism has forwarded to the Greek Ombudsman in 2021, among other complaints about violations of fundamental rights by national agents, in operations involving FRONTEX,” said the Ombudsman.
It added that it expects competent branches of the police to take prompt action on the complaint and continue their full cooperation regarding the investigation.
The interpreter, originally from Afghanistan with Italian residency, was on a mission in the northern region of Evros in September.
He was headed to the northern port city of Thessaloniki by bus when police stopped the bus and pulled him and other refugees off the vehicle.
The interpreter complained that he and at least 100 refugees, included women and children, were taken to a warehouse where they were beaten, forced to undress and stripped of documents, money, and cell phones.
Even though the interpreter tried to inform the police that he worked for the EU border agency, he said authorities responded with laughter and more beatings before they eventually being put the group on a boat and pushed them toward Turkey.
The interpreter managed to reach Istanbul and went to the Italian consulate. He returned to Italy on Sept. 18.
The newspaper pointed out that the Greek government initially disputed the complaint, claiming that an investigation showed that "the facts are not as they are presented."