After a series of difficulties and threats of postponement, the trial began regularly today.
As we have said before, the transfer of the trial from Mytilene to Chios can only be viewed as yet another tactical move of the state against the solidarity movement that has been developed for the 35 persecuted migrants. A move that aims at isolating the migrants from the wave of solidarity in Lesvos, creating crucial obstacles for those in solidarity, as well as for the witnesses, making it difficult for them to attend the trial.
The coincidence of the ferry strike on the two days before the trial prevented people in solidarity from traveling from Athens and Mytilene to Chios, creating the isolation conditions that the state desired. Apart from that, it also gave the police forces the opportunity to not transfer two of the accused migrants, leading the risk of postponing the trial. This obstacle was overcome though the mobilization of lawyers in Athens, who secured authorization from the two migrants, who remained in the transfer prison department, for the lawyers already in Chios to represent them. The strike was also used as an excuse for not transferring the official interpreter for the Wolof and Bambara dialects from Athens – the only dialects in which four of the migrants can communicate. In order to find a solution, an asylum-seeking migrant from the Chios’ detention centre was called forth.
In Chios, in the days before the trial, local tabloids tried to create an atmosphere of terror concerning the trial, which was occasioned by the calls for a solidarity rally outside the courthouse, from Athens and Mytilene. In the end, the only terrorising thing in the city in the morning were the dozens of cops of every kind (riot police, plainclothes police, port police along with many others) who had surounded the courthouse, and all the while checked everyone who was trying to come close to the courthouse. For this large and unprecedented, for Chios, police mobilisation, with more than 100 police inside and outside the courthouse, even licenses were evoked.
With regard to the court, the trial began after a small delay, due to the wait for the authorisation papers from the defendants that were kept in Athens. After the pause, the charges were read, with the interpreters translating only a small part of it to the accused migrtants, as was indicated by the court in order to speed up the process. Subsequently, the four juries were selected, and then the defence attorneys were asked for independent claims concerning alterations of the charges. The attorneys made claims concerning the charges for “life-threatening arson” and “distinguished damage”, in order to change them to “damage to foreign property”.
After the claims were lodged, the court ordered a pause to the trial process, and its continuation on Monday, April 23d, at 9am.
The trial is being followed by lawyers from abroad who have come as international observers.
Solidarity with the persecuted migrants from Moria and P. Ralli
Solidarity Assembly with the 35 Persecuted Migrants