The Latest: Greece mulls racism charges as migrants targeted
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The Latest on the flow of migrants into Europe (all times local):
Greece’s top prosecutor has ordered a probe into whether charges of racism can be brought in connection with two incidents where asylum-seekers have been targeted.
In the first case, on the eastern island of Samos, parents protesting plans for migrant children to attend classes have kept their children out of a primary school.
Samos is a key arrival point for migrants crossing from Turkey and hosts Greece’s most overcrowded migrant camp — with 4,000 people in facilities designed for 650.
And in the village of Villia, southwest of Athens, a hotel where dozens of migrants are being housed was attacked with stones after local residents voiced opposition to their arrival.
The probe was ordered Wednesday. The Greek government has condemned both incidents.
Italy’s hard-line interior minister, Matteo Salvini, has given an emotional defense of his decision last summer to refuse to allow migrants aboard an Italian coast guard ship to disembark in a Sicilian port.
Salvini spoke in the Senate ahead of a vote on whether to lift his immunity as a lawmaker to face possible kidnapping charges for refusing to admit some 177 migrants rescued at sea and transferred to the Italian coast guard ship Diciotti last August.
Salvini said his refusal to let the migrants make landfall was necessary to force Italy’s European partners to accept the burdens of migrant arrivals, which had disproportionately fallen on Italy as a primary destination of for humanitarian ships rescuing migrants from smugglers’ boats off Libya. Within days, European partners agreed to accept the migrants.
Greek police say they are investigating a possible racist motive in a violent attack by hooded men on a group of teenage Afghan asylum-seekers in the northern town of Konitsa.
A police statement Wednesday said the racist violence department is trying to identify the assailants.
The nine migrants were attacked “without provocation” by five men with clubs while playing in an open-air basketball court on Sunday, police said.
The youths, aged 14-18, live in a center for unaccompanied minors in Konitsa, some 500 kilometers (310 miles) northwest of Athens.
The police statement said two of the victims were treated overnight in a hospital after the attack, one for light injuries and the other for shock.
Greece is a major entry point for migrants seeking a better life in Europe.