By Thomas Escritt THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Lawyers for militia leader Bosco Ntaganda sought on Thursday to counter a portrayal of their client as cruel and bloodthirsty, saying he was a professional soldier who had tried to protect civilians from chaos and disorder in Congo in the early 2000s. Accounts of rape and massacres in northeast Congo have dominated the first two days of his trial, with prosecutors saying Ntaganda gathered a guerrilla army to strengthen his allies and corner the region's mineral resources for himself. "The Union of Congolese Patriots' (UPC) aim was to take political and military control of Ituri and to protect the population from attacks," said defence counsel Luc Boutin.
More than 230,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Greece by sea this year, a huge rise from 17,500 in the same period in 2014, deputy shipping minister Nikos Zois said Thursday. "It's an exponential rise -- I don't know how anyone could prepare for it," Zois told a press conference. Speaking alongside other ministers from Greece's interim government on the response to the crisis, Zois said that "calls to throw them out" cannot be the basis of Athens' policy for dealing with the unprecedented influx.