On January 2016, we received information about a vessel in distress near the shore of Lesvos, Greece. According to the protocol, we inform the Greek Coast Guard that we were going to rescue the migrants that were struggling in the vessel in distress. However, we could not find such vessel.

On the same week, the Greek Coast Guard informed us about another vessel in distress, and we went to find that vessel. However, while we were near the area, a military ship approached in a threatening manner and told us to change our course and go to the harbor. However, before reaching the harbor, our vessel was surrounded by two military ships and the Greek Coast Guard.

Without giving us information, the Greek authorities arrested us and raised an accusation to our organization and crew for allegedly committing the crimes of Human Trafficking and Illegal possession of weapons.  However, as it is well known, our organization is not part of any network of Human Trafficking and is mainly focused on the duties of rescuing at sea. We are in Lesvos to save lives, to provide humanitarian aid, not to traffic with people; we are Spanish officials with permission to travel as volunteers to the island with the approval of the local authorities.

Moreover, as we are professional rescuers, our crew does not carry any weapons. Our crew only carry small knives with short ends in the life vests as a tool for saving purposes.

Despite of our arguments, our crew was 68 hours in a shabby cell and we had to pay over               € 18,600 between the bail and lawyer expenses in order to release our crew. However, the Greek authorities impose the condition that the crew had to return to Greece if the authorities require us to hold a trial. Currently we are aware that the Greek authorities are asking for a jail time of 10 years for each of our crew members.

Although this incident affected our third team, PROEM-AID continued to collaborate in this humanitarian crisis with the Greek authorities until summer of 2017, having displaced a total of 30 professional rescue teams to the island of Lesvos.

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