Greece: Four Afghan migrants imprisoned by Moria camp fire | Human Rights News


Defendants’ attorneys denounce the “lack of sense of fairness” after the court found the couple guilty of arson.

Four Afghan asylum seekers have been sentenced to ten years in prison in a fire which last year destroyed the Moria migrant camp in Greece.

The Chios court found the defendants guilty of arson on Saturday as their lawyers denounced a “lack of sense of fairness,” they told AFP news agency that they had immediately filed an appeal after dictate the sentence.

The young Afghans were handcuffed to court and were expected to return to Avlona Prison, opposite Athens, where they were detained before the trial.

In March, two more young Afghans were sentenced to five years in prison in connection with the case.

The camp of Moriah, on the Aegean island of Lesbos, hosted more more than 10,000 people before being destroyed by two fires in September 2020. No one died in the fires.

View of the destroyed Moria camp after the fires on the island of Lesbos [File: Reuters/Vassilis Triandafyllou]

Greek authorities believe the fires were deliberately lit by camp occupants afterwards measures for quarantine were imposed after the discovery of COVID-19 cases among people living on the site.

About 20 people, mostly members of foreign solidarity groups, gathered outside the court to demand the release of the accused.

Defense attorneys said the Afghans did not get a fair trial.

The indictment is largely based on the testimony of another Afghan asylum seeker who identified the six as the perpetrators.

But according to defense attorneys, the witness was not in court on Friday and did not appear in court in March because he could not be located.

Defendants allege that they were the object of testimony, a Pashtun ethnic group, as the six are Hazara, a persecuted minority in Afghanistan.

Other witnesses to the indictment were police officers, firefighters called to the scene in September 2020 and staff from the European Asylum Service and non-governmental groups working in the camp.

Built in 2013 to accommodate up to 3,000 people, the Moria camp was overwhelmed in 2015 when a huge wave of people with small boats from Turkey began to arrive.

Some 13,000 asylum seekers, including families with children, pregnant women and people with disabilities, had to sleep in the open air. for a week after the camp was destroyed by fire.

Since then, authorities have built a temporary camp on Lesbos that houses about 6,000 people.

The EU has earmarked $ 336 million to build a new permanent camp on Lesbos and similar facilities on the islands of Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros.

Approximately 10,000 asylum seekers currently live in these five Aegean islands, the vast majority of whom were hoping to settle elsewhere in the EU.

A migrant brings his belongings after a fire in the Moria camp [File: Reuters]

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