Min menu


Four asylum seekers accused of starting the fire in Moria refugee camp sentenced to 10 years in prison

 Four asylum seekers accused of starting the fire in Moria refugee camp accrue to 10 years in prison

Four Afghan asylum seekers were seeking for asson to 10 years in prison. They were accused of being behind the devastating fire at Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos last year. Three of the four accused had documents proving that they were minors at the time of their arrest, but were nevertheless tried as adults. In March, two young Afghans were sentenced to five years in prison in connection with the same case.

The convictions and sentences were handed down in a closed-door of three judges, with court and international observers excluded from proceedings after a judge closed the courtroom, citing COVID-19 restrictions. The main evidence for the prosecution was the testimony of another Afghan refugee, who had fled Greece before the trial began. The young people were allegedly motivated to start a fire to protest the quarantine measures imposed following a coronavirus outbreak in the camp.

The fire of last September destroyed the Moria camp, displacing the 13,000 refugees held there in squalid conditions. Although no one was killed in the blaze, the entire camp was destroyed, including most of the belongings of the residents. For many weeks, thousands of refugees, a third of whom were children, were forced to sleep in the open air on the hills surrounding the camp.

Four asylum seekers accused of starting the fire in Moria refugee camp sentenced to 10 years in prison
Migrants and refugees stand next to burning barracks in Moria refugee camp on the Aegean island of Lesvos, northeast of the Aegean Sea, Greece, Sunday, September 29, 2019 [InTime News via AP]

At the time of the fire, a number of refugees accused Greek fascists of having started it, after the news of a coronavirus epidemic in the camp. Small groups of fascists, with the tacit support of local police and EU agents attacked, have regularly refugees and aid workers around the camp.

Many eyewitnesses also noted the enormous delay between reporting the blaze and responding to local authorities, allowing the blaze to destroy the entire camp. After the incident, a spokesperson for the right-wing New Democracy government made unsubstantiated accusations that the migrants themselves started the fires, saying that "they [the asylum seekers] thought if they set fire to the fire. Moria, they could leave the island “.

The only evidence against the youths and men who were convicted, all members of the persecuted Hazara ethnic group, is the testimony of another Afghan refugee. This witness was Pashtun, the majority ethnic group in Afghanistan; the defense argued that he had been persuaded to give false testimony against the defendants due to persistent ethnic tensions between refugees in the camp. According to  infomigrants.net  , more than 70 percent of the detention , at the camp were Afghans although of various ethnic origins.

The defense could not even cross-examine the witness who fled Moria shortly after giving his statement to the police and was therefore not present to confront the defendants at last week's trial, nor at that of. March. The was described by defense lawyer Natasha Dailiani as "full of inconsistencies". The defense further described the final conviction of the four refugees as "inconceivable" and "without evidence".

After the conviction, Patrikios Patrikounakis, one of the lawyers representing the asylum seekers, said: “It is clear that this came from above, and it was a decision of the state. Before an investigation was opened, government ministers were calling for convictions. Nine months before these sentences, the Greek Ministry of Migration had told CNN: "The camp was set on fire by six Afghan refugees who were arrested".

Responding to the fact that three of the convicts were minors at the time of their arrest but had been illegally tried as adults, he added: “[the] age should have been taken into account, according to the Greek penal code. What we saw instead was a travesty of justice.”

Fires were not uncommon in Moria camp. In 2016, around 60 percent of the camp was destroyed by fire. In September 2019, two fires broke out in the camp, resulting in the death of a woman and a child. In March 2020, another fire claimed the life of a six-year-old girl. All of these fires have unclear origins.

Even if it turned out that this latest fire was started by the defendants, the responsibility for such a desperate act of protest would rest with the entire European Union and its governments, not their prisoners. The word Moria is synonymous with the inhumane treatment of refugees by the EU. The appalling conditions in this camp are said to have a deterrent effect on arriving refugees.

At the time of the last fire, there were 13,000 refugees in a camp designed for 3,000 people. Detainees had to queue for hours to access drinking water and toilets. After the fire, thousands of people were moved to Kara Tepe, which had no running water or sewage system for months before it closed earlier this year and the return of refugees in what has been dubbed " Moria 2.0".

Jean Ziegler, former United Nations special rapporteur for the right to food, in February 2020 described the conditions as follows: “Human rights are violated at all times in the camp, total despair is omnipresent. The Brussels scoundrels allow survival conditions to develop in hot spots reminiscent of the deplorable concentration camps."

Deteriorating conditions in Moria and in refugee camps across Greece, as well as increased EU naval patrols in the Aegean Sea were overseen by both the openly right-wing New Democracy government, and the pseudo-left coalition Syriza, in power in Greece until 2019.

The conviction of six asylum seekers, including five children at the time of their arrest, on the basis of a highly questionable and unverifiable eyewitness testimony is part of a criminal attempt to cover up the role of the Greek government and the role of the Greek government. the EU in the Moria crisis.
At the same time, the Greek and European ruling class has always defended and cooperated with its far-right allies in attacks on refugees and aid workers.

As a direct result of the EU's “Fortress Europe” anti-immigrant campaign, over the past seven years, over 20,000 migrants are officially estimated to have drowned in the Mediterranean, from Morocco to the Aegean Sea. This in itself is probably a significant underestimation of the true extent of the deaths.

The Greek government's efforts to make these asylum seekers scapegoats is a logical extension of the EU's murderous continent-wide anti-immigrant policies, which aim to deflect the social tensions produced by the enormous austerity imposed on the population. The corollary of this effort is the promotion and protection by the EU of the far right and its policies, which are ultimately directed against the entire working class.

I have ambitions and goals in my life, and I am now trying to achieve them calmly, as the name also came on my channel and website.