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Manolada shooting victims given protected status

Prosecutor orders strawberry pickers who came under fire to be deemed victims of human trafficking

Supreme Court Prosecutor Ioannis Tentes orders that the strawberry pickers who were shot when they demanded six months' backpay be awarded status as trafficking victims, effectively imposing an indefinite ban on their possible deportation. Meanwhile, the three foremen charged with numerous counts of attempted murder, grievous bodily harm, human trafficking and illegal possession and use of weapons faced the magistrate

Bangladeshi worker Mohamed, 25, is seen inside his tent in Manolada on 18 April 2013, after foremen opened fire on him and other workers (Reuters) Bangladeshi worker Mohamed, 25, is seen inside his tent in Manolada on 18 April 2013, after foremen opened fire on him and other workers (Reuters) A Supreme Court prosecutor has ordered that 35 immigrant strawberry pickers, most of whom were injured in a shooting last week, be awarded state protection as victims of human trafficking.

Twenty-eight migrant workers, mostly from Bangladesh, were injured when three foremen opened fire on a crowd of about 200 migrant workers demanding backpay in Monalada, in the southern prefecture of Ileia.

The three men accused of carrying out the shooting appeared before an examining magistrate on Monday.

Supreme Court Prosecutor Ioannis Tentes ordered that the workers be awarded status as trafficking victims, effectively imposing an indefinite ban on their possible deportation.

Manolada, a town in the eastern Peloponnese, has achieved notoriety in recent years for its brutal treatment of migrant farmhands.

Police arrested the men - aged 21, 29 and 39 - two days after the incident last Wednesday.

A state prosecutor has filed charges of numerous counts of attempted murder, grievous bodily harm, human trafficking and illegal possession and use of weapons.

Their 57-year-old employer and owner of the Vangelatos SA fruit company was also expected to face the magistrate, in the town of Amaliada.

The lawyer of the oldest foreman said his client denies the charge and that he had been threatened by the workers.

Laywers representing the other two foreman deny that the charge of attempted murder and argue that their clients were not responsible for the living conditions of the workers.

A separate case is pending against the 27-year-old for causing serious injury in August 2012 to an Egyptian worker who was demanding his wages.

The foreman, who was sitting in a car, drove off while the labourer’s hand was trapped in the vehicle's window.

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