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Greece: Court convicts 21 people for attacks on migrants in 2018

Greece: Court convicts 21 people for attacks on migrants in 2018

A Greek court has convicted 21 people accused of being involved in an attack on migrants on the island of Lesbos in 2018.

A court in Mytilene, the capital of the Greek island of Lesbos, has sentenced 21 people on charges of taking part in an attack on migrants camping in the city’s Sappho Square in 2018.

The attack sparked clashes that lasted throughout the night.

Two of the defendants, reported the Greek newspaper Ekathimerini The indictment states that the defendants were sentenced to six years in prison for committing several crimes, including “threats and dangerous bodily harm motivated by racism.” Two other defendants received five years and nine months in prison for “dangerous bodily harm, also motivated by racism.”

However, these penalties were suspended for three years and can be “converted into a fine of five euros per day,” reported Ekathimerini.

Another 16 defendants were found guilty of “disturbing the public peace” and sentenced to one year in prison each.

The last person convicted received a nine-month prison sentence for the same crime. The term of imprisonment was reduced due to his young age at the time of the crime.

This is the “first time that a court in Lesbos’ capital Mytilene has officially recognised racist motives in a crime”, reports Ekathimerini.

From the file: On April 22, 2018, clashes broke out on Lesbos when right-wing extremists attacked migrants | Photo: picture alliance / dpa / Zuma Press
From the file: On April 22, 2018, clashes broke out on Lesbos when right-wing extremists attacked migrants | Photo: picture alliance / dpa / Zuma Press

Objections?

According to information on the Fair Trials International website, deadlines for appeals in Greece tend to be very tight: generally, the deadline is the first ten days after the verdict if you were present at the trial, and around 30 days if you were not present or do not live in Greece.

If the appeal is upheld, the trial will take place about a year later. Often, courts will either impose a short prison sentence that cannot be appealed, or offer longer prison sentences that can be appealed and converted into a fine for each day spent in prison, according to the Fair Trials International website.

At the request of the accused, the case could now be referred to a second instance court, i.e. an appeal court, and from there to a cassation court, i.e. an appeal court. At each of these stages, the verdicts could be overturned.

From the file: An unofficial camp was set up next to the Moria camp, which was almost as large as the official one when DW visited in 2018 | Source: Screenshot DW video
From the file: An unofficial camp was set up next to the Moria camp, which was almost as large as the official one when DW visited in 2018 | Source: Screenshot DW video

Moria camp in 2018

The attack for which the defendants were convicted is said to have taken place in the early hours of April 23, 2018. Migrants had camped in the middle of the city of Mytilene to protest against the conditions in the Moria migrant camp at the time.

A group of about 200 people showed up at the camp to attack it, injuring several migrants. Police then took the migrants back to the Moria camp.

In 2018, organizations such as Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Deutsche Welle (DW) that the Moria camp was hosting an estimated 9,000 migrants instead of the planned capacity of 3,000.

An MSF spokesperson said conditions in the camp were so bad that around a quarter of the children there had told MSF staff they regularly considered suicide. DW In addition, in 2018 it was reported that a group of IS members had begun terrorizing some people in the camp.

From the file: Migrants flee the flames in the Moria camp | Photo: Picture-alliance/dpa/AP/P.Giannakouris
From the file: Migrants flee the flames in the Moria camp | Photo: Picture-alliance/dpa/AP/P.Giannakouris

Moria was described at the time as the “worst migrant camp in Europe”. A video by DW explained that the only things that seemed to work properly in the camp at that time were “crime, drugs, prostitution and violence.”

The camp continued to grow until a major fire in 2020 destroyed large parts of it and left around 13,000 people homeless.