Four out of six Afghan youth suspected of the Moria refugee camp arson are in court today. They are suspected of arson and setting up a criminal organization. When they hear a penalty is unclear.
In September last year, Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos burned down completely. Less than a week later, six Afghan men were arrested. They would have lit the fire out of discontent with a lockdown.
In April, two suspects, who were minor during the fire, were sentenced to five years in jail. They were found guilty of arson but acquitted of participating in a criminal organization. They were tried earlier, because minors are only allowed to be detained in Greece for six months in detention.
The lawsuit comes a lot of criticism from journalists and human rights organizations. For example, the charge against five out of six suspects is based on the testimony of one person, another Afghan refugee. He‘s been without a trace since then. The witness was also not present at the hearing of the two minor suspects.
In addition, the hearing takes place behind closed doors: journalists from local and international news media should not be in court, just like international observers. According to the court, there’s too little room due to the corona measures.
advance, human rights organizations also criticised how the suspects were dealt with. For example, the authorities would have presented them as the perpetrators prior to the trial, and the two minor suspects would have been condemned with little evidence in a hurry trial.
In a public letter, 70 organizations and activists state that the so-called ‘Moria 6’ is “the scapegoat of inhuman EU policies”.
Camp Moria went up in flames in September 2020. At the time, 12,500 migrants lived in the camp, while there was only 3000 space, and the camp was in lockdown due to a corona outbreak. As far as we know, there were no deaths.
More than 5,500 of camp residents are housed in a temporary camp, near Mavrovouni. This camp flooded several times during the winter, turning it into a mud pool.
Thousands of people have also been taken to other camps on the mainland. In addition, some EU Member States have taken care of minor and vulnerable migrants. The Netherlands has caught a hundred people.
The Greek government promised to build a new camp for the winter, but construction has not begun yet. Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said on Thursday that the tender for the project is still in progress. The new camp must be able to catch 5,000 migrants.
Mitarakis cannot guarantee that the new camp will be finished for the winter. “But if there is no new camp on Lesbos yet, we have plans to stop seeing the same images as in the temporary camp in Mavrovouni.”