Two Russians, 24-year-old Alexei Igumnov and 25-year-old Nikita Sheptalov, were sentenced in Greece to 300 years in prison each for transporting illegal migrants.
As RT managed to find out, Igumnov and Sheptalov are from Stary Oskol.
According to their relatives, a certain Mustafiev offered them a job as seamen in Turkey, promising to pay about 100 thousand rubles a month.
Previously, they had no experience of such work, so they were first sent to study in Montenegro.
Moreover, all costs were borne by the employer.
After training, which took about two weeks, they were sent to Turkey.
Captain changed course
As Alexei's mother Svetlana Igumnova told RT, at first everything was official - they ferried yachts after purchase to new owners.
© Photo from personal archive
“On September 27 (2019
) our guys were on a regular flight, but the captain changed the route abruptly.
He said that we need to pick up the tourists.
After a while, rubber boats with people approached them and began to load into the yacht, ”Svetlana explained.
According to her, there were about 60 new passengers, although the yacht is designed for 18.
The ship sank heavily, and the sailors began to be indignant, but the captain began to threaten them, saying that even their relatives would suffer.
“Then a storm started, and a fishing boat passed by at night not far from the yacht.
The ship lit the yacht with a searchlight, and the captain put on life jackets with the assistant and said that they would now reach the fishing vessel, and then they would also be taken away.
They jumped overboard, swam, but no one later returned, and Alexey and Nikita were left alone on the yacht along with all the remaining people.
The ship left, and our guys from one to seven in the morning fought in a storm for the lives of all people on the yacht.
Nikita then gave an SOS signal and they were picked up by a passing Georgian tanker, ”Svetlana Igumnova describes the events.
© Photo from personal archive
Then the tanker handed over the rescued to the Greek authorities, so the Russian sailors were behind bars.
“Later, when the interrogation was going on, the guys were asked why they didn’t abandon the yacht as a captain.
To this they replied that they could not leave living people on the ship to their fate, ”says Svetlana.
They did not give me access to the case materials
Now Russian sailors are in a Greek prison in the city of Nafplio in a two-week quarantine.
Relatives cannot contact them.
“Russian guys who are also in this prison are in touch with us,” Svetlana said.
The other day, a trial was held, which sentenced each to 300 years in prison.
"At the same time, the court did not pay attention to the arguments of the Russians and the evidence of their innocence, and the appointed attorney practically did not communicate with them, did not get acquainted with the case materials and the first time they saw him during the beginning of the court session," said the vice president of the Russian division International Committee for the Defense of Human Rights Ivan Melnikov.
According to Svetlana Igumnova, only on September 17 was it possible to ensure that the representative of the Russian consulate in Greece was able to attend the court hearing on the guys.
“According to the consul, the Greek side does not notify our consular department of the date and time of the court hearings for Russian sailors.
Our consuls are not even aware of the courts.
Consul Grigorenko was at the last court session, but he was not allowed to speak in defense of our sailors, ”she says.
According to Alena Basova, a member of the initiative group of relatives of detained sailors "Returning to Homeland", the situation is complicated by the language barrier.
The woman notes that all the materials are in Greek, and the detainees were unable to get acquainted with them.
“Our guys have Greek lawyers, they don't know Russian and speak through an interpreter.
They did not prepare Aleksey and Nikita in any way for trial, did not talk to them at all before the trial, ”Basova said.
She emphasizes that the court also did not accept the documents sent from Russia, in particular, that Alexey and Nikita had no previous convictions, because they were in Russian.
All cases "as a carbon copy"
This is far from the first such case.
In total, 22 Russian sailors are currently in Greece under a similar article, Basova says.
“All these people have been awaiting trial for at least a year, while all procedural documents are in Greek, so they cannot defend their position.
Any evidence in Russian is rejected.
They often cannot even receive qualified medical care due to the fact that they do not know the language, ”says Alyona Basova.
At the same time, all cases, in her words, are "like a blueprint": they hire people without work experience, and then they leave them on the high seas, and the customers escape responsibility.
Earlier, according to her, Ukraine faced the same problem - in Greece there are about 120 Ukrainian sailors accused of smuggling migrants.
“This scheme of involving people without work experience and knowledge of languages in fraudulent activities has changed geography from Ukraine to Russia.
We are talking about a certain interethnic criminal group, the ends of which go somewhere deep, ”Basova says.
In her opinion, the detained sailors themselves became victims of human trafficking, they were dragged into illegal activities through deception, pressure and "creating debt bondage."
Igor and Nikita have now filed an appeal. The relatives of the detainees are trying, through the Russian Ministry of Justice, to get them extradited to serve their time in their homeland. In their opinion, there is such a possibility, but everything depends on the position of the Greek side.