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The Latest: Greece accused of violently forcing out migrants

PARIS (AP) — The Latest on migration issues in Europe (all times local):

7:45 p.m.

An international rights watchdog has accused Greek authorities of violently forcing back migrants who tried to illegally enter Greece from neighboring Turkey.

A Human Rights Watch statement has urged Greece to immediately investigate the allegations, which the group said it received in interviews with 26 migrants in Greece and Turkey.

The group said most of the alleged incidents occurred between April and November 2018 at the land border in northeastern Greece. It said interviewees reported hostile or violent behavior “by Greek police and unidentified forces wearing uniforms and masks.”

Greece has been repeatedly accused in recent years of so-called pushbacks — repulsing and returning to Turkey migrants entering illegally from that country. Successive governments have denied that.

Migrant entries by the land border have spiked this year.

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4:25 p.m.

A German court has convicted a man of unauthorized dealing in firearms over the sale in 2016 of weapons that he advertised as being usable to “shoot down asylum-seekers.”

The Berlin state court sentenced the 35-year-old, identified only as Mario R. because of German privacy rules, to two years and 10 months in prison and confiscated 99,100 euros ($112,287) in proceeds.

The court said Tuesday the defendant sold the firearms, which could only fire rubber bullets but an expert deemed potentially deadly, online from Hungary between May and November 2016. The weapons were legal in Hungary but required a permit in Germany.

Large numbers of migrants arrived in Germany in 2015 and 2016. The court found that the defendant “exploited the mood in Germany in a particularly perfidious way.”

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2:05 p.m.

French officials say that nine migrants, including a woman and child, have been rescued off the coast of Dunkirk after two distress calls from their small boat as they tried to sneak to Britain.

French maritime authorities in charge of the English Channel area said the migrants were located early Tuesday after a three-hour air and sea search.

A statement said the small boat was located 30 kilometers (about 20 miles) northwest of Dunkirk.

The large search party included a helicopter and three ships, and was later joined by two more helicopters from Belgium and Britain who searched the northern area of the English Channel.

Since fall, migrants have increasingly resorted to unguided sea crossings to reach Britain. Rescuers intercepted 18 migrants in two boats on Nov. 22.

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10:45 a.m.

Germany’s highest court has thrown out complaints from the far-right Alternative for Germany party claiming Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2015 decision to allow in hundreds of thousands of migrants was a constitutional violation.

The party, known as AfD, argued that Merkel’s decision not to refuse migrants’ entry at Germany’s borders violated parliament’s right to participate and other principles.

But the Federal Constitutional Court said Tuesday that the three complaints didn’t meet prerequisites for a constitutional hearing because the AfD “failed to sufficiently substantiate that the federal government’s decisions on this matter violated or directly threatened its rights.”

It also noted that while the AfD argued parliament should have been enlisted to draft a “migration management act,” the party also stated its “unwillingness to participate in the introduction of a corresponding bill.”

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