June 6, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Egyptian man sentenced in Greece to 280 years in prison

For transporting migrants, a fisherman from Egypt was threatened with 4,760 years in a Greek prison. However, the court took pity and sentenced him to only 280 years.

Accused of human smuggling, Egyptian H. Elfallah transported almost 500 people from Libya to Greece in November 2022 – 336 men, 10 women, 128 boys and 9 girls. For his actions, he received a minimum term of 280 years in prison. However, even for such a “small” period, human rights groups condemned the court’s decision, saying that Elfallah, who was one of the migrants and who drove the ship, is being used by the Greek authorities as a “scapegoat”.

The 45-year-old Egyptian fisherman was on board the migrant boat when it arrived at the port of Paleochora in Crete at the end of November 2022. Due to strong winds, the ship lost control near the coast and gave a distress signal to the Greek coast guard, which rescued the people on board. The migrants traveled from Libya to Italy on the old boat, among the illegal passengers were immigrants from Egypt, Syria and Sudan.

The human rights NGO Borderline-europe reports that when the Greek authorities boarded the ship, they immediately arrested seven migrants, including Elfalah and his 15-year-old son. The organization claims that Elfallah was not responsible for the smuggling of nearly 500 migrants. He did not want to take control of the boat, but was forced to do so due to difficult circumstances:

“Elfallah could not afford the expense of several thousand euros for a trip for himself and his son. In exchange for a lower price, he and his son agreed to do some work – which is not uncommon in such “moves” to Europe.”

According to the NGO, the Egyptian wanted to be reunited with another son who already lives in the UK.

In recent years, European borders have become increasingly secure, and the criminalization of illegal migration has only gotten worse. In this regard, smugglers now often leave migrants to independently get to the other side of the Mediterranean or Aegean Sea, entrusting the management of the vessel to their “clients”. The organization’s report, released last week, states:

“It goes without saying that someone has to steer the boat, especially a vessel of this size. It actually needs several people to take care of navigation, steering and mechanics. Usually, if there are people in the group with at least a little seafaring experience, they take on the duties of the helmsman – this is quite logical and should be in the interests of everyone who claims to care about the well-being of people on board. “

According to Borderline-europe, Elfallah has “been targeted” by European authorities seeking to blame someone else for boatloads of migrants still reaching the shores of the continent, despite massive efforts to prevent those trips at their starting point. People who help make migrants’ travel safer are “arrested and treated like criminals” aboard the ships carrying them. Lawyers say:

“They are being punished to scare others away, they are being used as scapegoats to divert attention from the responsibility that Europe has with its closed borders policy forcing people to board these ships and make these journeys.”

Elfallah was charged with “unauthorized entry” and “unauthorized transportation of 476 third-country nationals into Greek territory” with the aggravating circumstances of “endangering the life of passengers”, “acting for profit” and “belonging to a criminal organization”. According to Greek law, he could receive 10 years for each person he transported, for a total of 4,760 years. “Taking into account his arguments”, the court on Monday decided to sentence Elfallah “only” to 280 years, writes euronews.

Source link