Afghans sentenced to 10 years in prison for arson in Greek refugee camp – 13/06/2021 – world

A Greek court sentenced, this Saturday (12), four Afghan asylum seekers to 10 years in prison for the fire which ravaged the largest refugee camp in Europe last year.

The court in Chios (north Aegean Sea) found them guilty of arson, defense lawyers said.

Moria camp, created in 2005 at the height of the migration crisis, housed more than 10,000 people before being completely destroyed by two fires on September 8 and 9, 2020, which caused no casualties.

No means of communication could monitor the reading of the sentence because of the health restrictions resulting from the Covid-19.

In another trial in March, two young Afghans, minors at the time of the incident, were sentenced to five years in prison by a court in Lesbos for the fires.

Defense lawyers say three of those convicted on Saturday presented documents proving that they were not 18 at the time of their arrest, but that this fact was not recognized by the Greek state.

Most of the trial was based on the testimony of an Afghan asylum seeker who also lived in Moria camp and who identified the six young people as the perpetrators of the fire.

This key witness was not present at Friday’s hearing nor did he appear at the March trial because he was not located.

The defendants said the witness, a man of Pashtun ethnicity, accused them of belonging to the Hazara ethnic group, a persecuted minority in Afghanistan.

Clashes between rival tribes or ethnicities were frequent in the Moria camp, which housed more than 20,000 people in March 2020.

At the time of the fire, the situation was explosive in the overcrowded camp, where migrants lived in poor hygienic conditions and in strict confinement for months because of the coronavirus.

Like the rest of the country, Moria was confined in March 2020, but on the other hand, it did not benefit from the gradual suspension of restrictive measures. Access by NGOs was also prohibited because of the risk of contagion.

On September 2, 2020, a first case was detected in a refugee returning to Moria after a stay on the mainland, and tensions erupted a few days later.

According to statements collected by AFP, the night of the first fire, around 200 migrants refused to be quarantined in an isolation zone created in the camp.

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