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Sevilla firefighters jailed for 'human trafficking' during refugee rescue released on bail
thinkSPAIN , Sunday, January 17, 2016

THREE firefighters from Sevilla arrested for 'human trafficking' whilst helping refugees in trouble reach the shores of Lesbos have been released after a judge provisionally declared them innocent – but they still have to find €5,000 in bail money.

Julio Latorre, José Enrique and Manuel Blanco, half of a team of six working for the charity PROEM-AID in two-week shifts rescuing Syrians cast adrift on overcrowded, unseaworthy vessels off the Greek island have spent three days in police cells following their inexplicable arrest.

Their team supervisor said he was 'stunned', since PROEM-AID has a 'good working relationship' with the Greek coastguard, which is said to have taken the three men into custody.

Although they have now been released from the port authority detention centre in the island's capital, Mitilene – receiving a hero's welcome at the exit from their charity colleagues – they have to pay a bail bond of €5,000 within a month as a 'guarantee' that they will return to Greece if they are ordered to face trial.

The firefighters' solicitor in Greece, Jaris Pétsikos, said the judge's decision is 'temporary' since inquiries are still under way.

A final verdict will only be reached after a judges' council has reviewed the evidence, although Pétsikos is 'confident' they will be acquitted.

Blanco, Latorre and Enrique were on a craft owned by a Danish citizen along with two members of the Denmark-based charity Team Humanity when they were detained by the Greek coastguard.

It is not thought the Danes were arrested.

Greek authorities say the three Spaniards were 'close to two dinghies carrying refugees' which were 'in Turkish waters at the time', and whose occupants were eventually rescued by Turkey's coastguard.

PROEM-AID says the firefighters were searching for a boat they had been told was in danger.



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