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Kind-hearted rescue workers walk free after court ordeal in Greece ends

The three volunteers arrived back on Lesbos last weekend with supporters.
The three volunteers arrived back on Lesbos last weekend with supporters. / EFE
  • The three firefighters from Seville volunteered to go to the island of Lesbos in 2015 to help Syrian refugees and were later accused of people trafficking

The three firefighters who had been accused by Greek authorities of people smuggling were back home in Seville on Thursday after their case ended.

Manuel Blanco, Julio Latorre and Quique Rodríguez were acquitted of all charges after travelling from Spain to the hearing on the Greek island of Lesbos.

In late 2015 the three men had volunteered to go to the island for charity Proem-Aid, having seen the distressing pictures of Syrians struggling to reach Europe from Turkey across the Aegean Sea. On 14 January 2016, while looking for people to bring ashore , they were arrested and accused of crimes carrying up to ten years in prison. After three days in jail they were released on 15,000 euros bail and returned to Seville to await a trial back in Greece.

A delegation led by the Andalusian regional minister for Justice, Rosa Aguilar, travelled with the three men this week to support them in front of the judge on Lesbos.

Releasing the men, the judge confirmed that, “saving lives is not a crime”. Speaking for the three, Manuel Blanco said, “All of us volunteers showed the best face of Europe in the refugee crisis.”