Story By: Gheorghi Caraseni, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
Two Russians who claim they were tricked into working on a boat smuggling immigrants into Europe have been jailed for 395 years and fined millions of euros.
The two men, Alexander Ilarionov, 27, and Andrey Zhuravlev, 29, who were originally from the city of Kaliningrad were jailed by a court in Greece for supporting illegal immigration and human trafficking after they were arrested in autumn last year.
Ivan Melnikov, the vice-president of Russian division of International Committee of Human Rights Protection describe the sentences as severe given the circumstances.
He said: “All these men were hired as sailors after found this job offers in internet. They were told by their employer, whom they never saw, that they will need to transport tourists from Turkey to Greece and Italy.”
He said that all of the contacts between the Russian men in their future employer were made by telephone, which no longer works once they had arrived in Greece to start the job.
The Russians were ordered to take over control of the yacht where they were expected to ship strangers to Italy, but they got into difficulties during the storm and were forced to make a Mayday call which resulted in their arrest when it was discovered that their passengers were illegal immigrants.
He said it was a strategy that was a growing problem whereby so-called “black employers” offered lucrative positions over the Internet which only later turned out to be criminal enterprises.
The men were also reportedly fined millions of euros which they have no hope of paying as punishment for the crime.
In total, 14 Russians were arrested in the operation and so far it remains unknown what happened to the rest of the sailors from the group yet their relatives report that all the men remain behind bars.
They also complain that Russian officials have done little to help the men after their arrest.
Greece is reportedly holding dozens of Russian sailors on similar charges.
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