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Deported Georgian Women Plan to Seek Compensation

A group of 48 Georgian women who were stopped at the Finnish border last week are planning to seek compensation from the Finnish government for unfair treatment.

The women's lawyer Bela Sirbiladze told Helsingin Sanomat the women claim they received poor treatment from the Finnish officials. They say the Finnish authorities interrogated the women without any help from a lawyer or translator.

Sirbiladze said the Finnish police failed to hold a press conference at Tbilisi airport which would have helped to clear up any misunderstandings about the nature of their case.

The lawyer said Finnish media is partly to blame for insinuating the women were turned back because they could have ended up as prostitutes.

Sirbiladze also represents the travel agents who arranged the trip.

The authorities claim the women did not have enough cash for the duration of the trip. The women deny that they had too little cash on them. The group's cash reserves of about 25,000 euros were in the possession of the head of the group, but there was no record of how it was to be shared by the women.

The travellers all had valid passports containing visas to Sweden. Their itinerary was to have taken them to Sweden, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Greece before returning to Georgia via Turkey.

Finnish officials deny the allegations and say the women were stopped for their own protection.

However, when the case was reported in the Georgian media, the attempt to protect the women appeared to have backfired, and Georgians living in Finland have expressed concern that the women could be shunned by their own community.

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