Athens, Greece – 4 Afghan asylum seekers convicted of beginning a hearth that burned an unlimited Greek refugee camp to the bottom are awaiting a courtroom resolution on their attraction course of.

All residents of Moria on the time, the defendants at the moment are 18, 20, 20 and 23. They have been formally charged in June 2021 for the fireplace that devastated the camp on the island of Lesbos in a trial that his legal professionals say it was stuffed with process. errors. Since 2020, they’ve been detained in two completely different prisons on the Greek mainland.

The choice is predicted this week in an attraction courtroom in Lesvos.

Two different Afghans who have been additionally accused of beginning the fireplace have been registered as minors on the time and have been subsequently tried individually. The youthful couple misplaced their attraction final 12 months.

In June 2021, the 4 have been convicted of “arson with hazard to human life” by the Blended Jury Court docket of Chios and sentenced to 10 years in jail.

The proof offered was fragile, in line with his legal professionals – solely a written witness to the police.

The witness, one other resident of the camp, confirmed the id of the accused by “5 particular images” of them, the legal professionals mentioned.

“Not one of the different prosecution witnesses, whether or not law enforcement officials or firefighters, have been capable of determine the defendants, regardless that they have been eyewitnesses to the fireplace,” mentioned a press release from the Authorized Middle of Lesvos, which represents these awaiting the attraction resolution this week. on the time of his first trial in 2021.

Lesbos was one of many predominant entry factors for asylum seekers in Europe in the course of the “refugee disaster” years 2015-16 and many individuals on arrival have been taken to the Moria camp for processing.

When the notorious web site burned in September 2020, it made headlines across the globe, having already been described as “hell on earth” by support teams.

It was identified for its squalid and overcrowded situations. At its peak, the camp accommodated almost 20,000 individuals in an area initially designed for about 3,000. Residents took refuge in tents and shacks within the areas above the primary camp.

The fireplace, found for the primary time on the finish of the hour of September 8 4 years in the past, unfold shortly within the olive bushes on the mountain the place the camp was constructed.

Thanasis Voulgarakis, a human rights activist in Lesvos, rushed to the camp the night time it burned.

“Every thing was on hearth, it was actually hearth in all places,” he mentioned. “All night time it was like that and folks have been making an attempt to assist others to go away, the containers and the plastic of the tents have been burning all night time and there was simply panic, however a minimum of nobody was harm, it was a miracle.”

The fireplace was nonetheless smoldering the following morning. Black smoke billowed from the sector, which had become a pile of twisted metallic and plastic. The flames left charred residing containers and tents behind him, and plenty of paths have been nonetheless affected by private belongings that they had left to flee the inferno. The times following the fireplace resulted in chaotic scenes, as 1000’s have been left homeless on the streets of Lesvos whereas authorities ready a brand new “momentary” camp on a close-by web site that’s nonetheless in use.

Activists and rights teams have criticized European migration insurance policies for such a big containment of individuals.

Notis Mitarachi, the Greek minister of migration on the time, mentioned that “the arsonists of Moria have been arrested. [and] everybody's security is assured”, even when a trial had not but taken place.

Attorneys representing the 4 mentioned the most recent trial “ignored fundamental procedural and substantive safeguards.”

They famous that the one witness had not appeared in courtroom and subsequently couldn’t be cross-examined. His testimony says that the accused set hearth to a selected space of ​​the Moria camp on a selected day. His legal professionals say, nonetheless, that in line with the native hearth service, this a part of the camp didn’t burn on that particular day. The attorneys alleged a litany of different issues within the 2021 trial, together with “incorrect or incomplete interpretations.”

Forensic Structure and Forensis, analysis businesses that the legal professionals of the accused in control of investigating the case, have revealed evaluation in 2023 within the Moria hearth after inspecting a whole bunch of movies, photos, testimonies and official reviews to reconstruct the occasions of the night time

They indicated that there have been many fires through the years, particularly in September, when “the land is the driest on this Mediterranean area”.

“The dry situations, mixed with the precariousness and density ensuing from the insurance policies imposed by the Greek and EU authorities, have led to a pointy enhance in massive fires yearly presently,” they mentioned. “Our evaluation reveals vital inconsistencies within the testimony of the important thing witness and casts additional doubt on the proof on which the judgment of the younger asylum seekers was based mostly.”

Vicky Aggelidou, one of many legal professionals of the Authorized Middle Lesbos, mentioned that within the 2021 trial, journalists and authorized observers have been prevented from getting into the courtroom below the pretext of COVID-19 restrictions.

“If journalists and the general public had not been banned from getting into the courtroom in the course of the first trial, they’d have witnessed the ridiculous present trial that led to the conviction of 4 of the Moria 6, with none credible proof” , he instructed Al Jazeera. “Now we have been ready for nearly three and a half years to have a correct and truthful trial through which the protection arguments and the proof are literally thought of by the courtroom, throughout which era the 4 have been in jail. Whereas the courts they could desire to comb this case below the ashes of Moria, we won’t cease preventing for the liberty of Moria 6”.

“It’s the Greek and European migration insurance policies that must be put to the check, not these six younger Afghans.”

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