The Greek coastguard caused the death of many migrants after they deliberately threw them overboard or forced them out back into the sea on arrival at Greek islands, according to a report. The illegal actions allegedly occurred over three years and have caused at least 40 deaths. 

Nine of the migrants were deliberately thrown into the water and many were forced out of Greek territorial waters or back out to the sea, causing their deaths, reported BBC. An investigation conducted by the media house with the help of local media, NGOs and the Turkish coastguard, revealed that 43 deaths occurred in 15 incidents from May 2020-23.

According to the BBC analysis, migrants in five cases were thrown directly into the sea by the Greek authorities. In four of those cases, they were reportedly hunted down after landing on Greek islands. In another incident, they had been put onto inflatable rafts without motors which then deflated, or appeared to have been punctured. 

The report also carried an account of a Cameroonian man who said he was hunted by Greek authorities after landing on the island of Samos in September 2021. “We had barely docked, and the police came from behind,” he told BBC. “There were two policemen dressed in black, and three others in civilian clothes. They were masked, you could only see their eyes.”

He added that he, along with two others, was transferred to a Greek coastguard boat where events took a terrifying turn. One of the men was Cameroonian and the other from Ivory Coast. “They started with the [other] Cameroonian. They threw him in the water. The Ivorian man said: ‘Save me, I don’t want to die… and then eventually only his hand was above water, and his body was below. Slowly his hand slipped under, and the water engulfed him,” he said. 

He added that the coastguard officials beat him before pushing him to the water. He, however, was able to swim to shore, but the bodies of the other two – Sidy Keita and Didier Martial Kouamou Nana – were recovered on the Turkish coastline.

The report also quoted a Somalian man who described being caught by the Greek Army on arrival on the island of Chios. The army handed him over to the Greek coastguard which had tied his hands behind his back, before dropping him into the water. 

“They threw me zip-tied in the middle of the sea. They wanted me to die,” he told BBC. He said he managed to survive by floating on his back before one of his hands broke free from the ligature. 

Greek coastguard authorities came under the scanner in 2022 after a boat carrying 750 people, mostly from Pakistan, Syria and Egypt, capsized on 14 June. Hundreds are still missing, while 82 were confirmed dead. 

Many survivors had then alleged that the actions of the Greek coastguard caused the crowded fishing vessel to sink.

The Greek coastguard authorities denied the allegations. Though Greek law allows all migrants seeking asylum to register their claim on several of the islands at special registration centres, undercover officials illegally force back migrants from Greece to Turkey, a violation of international and EU law.