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Athens – All of it started the night time of 18 June, with an alert despatched to the “Alarm Telephone” centre, a hotline offering assist to migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean. At one within the morning, the NGO broadcast the message on its Twitter account: “Within the Aegean, sinking boat close to Mykonos”. They clarified, “We’re in touch with a bunch of 80 folks in misery to the southwest of the island of Mykonos. Now we have alerted the coastguard who’ve advised us that they’ve begun a search.” A number of hours later, the Minister of Migration and Asylum, Notis Mitrakis, posted on Twitter: “8 migrants reported lacking and 104 rescued within the Cyclades, aboard a crusing boat travelling from the Turkish coast to Europe. Turkey can do a greater job by working with Europe and Greece to guard human life and eradicate smuggling networks.”
The day after the rescue, a supply within the Greek Ministry of the Navy clarified to Voxeurop, “An inquiry is underway to find out the position performed by the refugees on board. Six shall be tried quickly.” Their crime? “They’re suspected of getting been on the helm; they collaborated to sail the boat,” continued the supply. “They’re most likely people-smugglers.” In a means, the sentence has already been handed earlier than the trial has even taken place.
The affair is simply one other in a lengthening listing of trials involving migrants. And the trials are all the time the identical: expeditious. “As quickly because the Greek coastguard intercepts a migrant boat, they give the impression of being to see who among the many migrants was on the helm,” explains lawyer Alexandros Georgoulis. He presents as proof the circumstances of the migrants that he represents, notably on the islands of Chios, Samos and Lesbos, a couple of kilometres from Turkey. All of them have an analogous story: that of exiles condemned for attempting to avoid wasting lives.
That’s the case for Mohammad Hanad Abdi, a Somalian born in 1993. He tells his story from jail on the island of Chios. He needed to flee his native nation after going by means of a compelled marriage, being injured in an assault on his uncle perpetrated by the Somalian Islamic terrorist group al-Shabaab, and being disowned by his household. “So, I made a decision to flee, to go away for Greece. First, I went to Turkey, by aircraft,” he explains. In December 2020, in Izmir, he discovered a smuggler and paid €450 for a journey to Greece.
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He found the gravity of the state of affairs as soon as aboard the boat. “There have been 34 of us. After some time, the smuggler left the boat. I took the helm though I had no thought learn how to steer. We contacted the Turkish coastguard. But it surely was the Greek coastguard that stopped us.” The boat had already begun to tackle water. Two migrants had been swept overboard with out the opposite passengers realising. Georgoulis, who represents the Somalian, confirms: “I met a variety of different passengers – all of them inform the identical story and say that Mohammed saved them.”
Nonetheless, when the vessel was intercepted by the Greek coastguard, Mohammad Hanad Abdi was arrested. On 13 Could 2021, his first trial happened. Not one of the different passengers was referred to as upon to testify. After a listening to of roughly 45 minutes and a deliberation of an hour and a half, the decision was introduced. Mohammad was sentenced to 142 years in jail. “The judges drew on a Greek regulation from 2014, Article 30 of Regulation 4521/2014, to be exact,” explains Georgoulis. “Any individual that takes the helm is taken into account a smuggler and faces a sentence of 15 years per individual transported and a life sentence for every one who dies in the midst of the journey.”
Judges used the identical regulation to sentence two Afghan migrants, Akif Rasuli and Amir Zahiri, to 50 years in jail at their first trial. The pair arrived in Greece in March 2020, fleeing the battle in Afghanistan. They paid a smuggler to take them from Turkey to Greece, gateway to the European Union. As in Mohammad Hanad Abdi’s case, the smuggler left the makeshift vessel as quickly because the migrants had been at sea. Rasuli and Zahiri took the helm, and the coastguard intercepted the boat. They admit that they sailed the boat to keep away from capsizing. They had been condemned after a trial that lasted lower than two minutes. The one witnesses heard had been the Greek coastguards.
“In Greece, migrants are handled like essentially the most heinous criminals. They obtain longer sentences than these obtained by the members of neo-Nazi social gathering Golden Daybreak who’ve been accused of homicide and taking part in a prison organisation”
Stelios Kouloglou, Syriza