August 2, 2021

Four Afghans sentenced to ten years in prison for fire in Moria camp in Lesbos

“The authorities want to put the blame for the disaster of the Moria camp fire on these young asylum seekers!” », was indignant, before the court of Chios, Natasha Dailiani, one of the lawyers of the four Afghans who had just been sentenced, Saturday, June 12, to ten years in prison for “Arson which endangered human lives “And “Destruction of private property”.

On September 8 and 9, 2020, two successive fires ravaged Moria, the largest migrant camp in Europe, which then housed nearly 13,000 people, four times its capacity. No victims had perished in the flames but thousands of refugees were left homeless for several days, stranded by police in part of the island to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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A few days later, Afghan asylum seekers, suspected of having set fire to protest against the quarantine imposed on certain people detected positive for Covid-19, were arrested by the police. September 15 on Twitter, Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said even before a court ruling was handed down: “The arsonists from the Moria camp are being held. »

For defense lawyers, “It is evident that the guilt of the accused was determined even before the trial was held. The minister at the time brushed aside the fundamental principle of the presumption of innocence ».

Defense lawyers have already indicated that they will appeal the court ruling. “We will see under what circumstances the trial in the Court of Appeal will be held and, if necessary, we will go to the European Court of Justice for a fair trial to be held! “, explained one of the migrants’ lawyers, Vicky Aggelidou.

“Lack of credible evidence”

During the two consecutive days of trial, on June 11 and 12, the hearings were held with a small number of people, the authorities citing the need to respect health measures linked to the coronavirus epidemic. Several journalists, a lawyer from the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and international observers were turned away from the gates of the court.

No mitigating circumstances were retained. Three of the young refugees were under 18 at the time of their arrest, but the Chios Court of Justice ignored this, defense lawyers said. “The only witness who accurately identified the accused was not present in court, and his written testimony is full of inaccuracies”, also notes Natasha Dailiani.

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